Loikaw, February (19)

Kayah (Karenni) state, where severe firefights are taking place amid armed revolution, has seen a narrowing of the campaign area for the election of the military council, according to the local organizations.

The elections were held in Loikaw, Demoso, Hpasoung, Mae Se, Bawlakhe, Shartaw, and Hpruso Townships in the 2020 general election.

The fighting between the People’s Defense Forces and regime forces in Demoso Township has intensified since the coup, and there are military tensions in Shataw and Hpruso Townships as well.

According to local residents, the administrative bodies in the areas of Loikaw, Hpasong, and Bawlakhe, which are under the control of the military council, collected population data for 23 days from January 9 to 31.

On the other hand, the regime troops have been invading the villages around Loikaw since the end of January.

U Banya, chairman of the Human Rights Council of the Karenni State Consultative Council, said that the military council’s effort was to clear the surrounding area so that elections could be held in Loikaw. In addition, the military council also carried out daily airstrikes on the east side of Loikaw in early February.

On February 2, the military council declared martial law in the towns of Demoso, Hpruso, Shataw, and Bawlakhe, where ferocious fighting is still going on. After that, the junta troops used local houses as secret camps in Loikaw.

The military council is preparing to hold elections in Kayah state, but the state’s political parties, the Kayan National Party (KNP) and the Kayah State Democratic Party (KySDP), have insisted that they will not run for junta elections at all.

In the 2020 election, KySDP contested for three Hluttaws in Karenni State’s 34 constituencies, winning eight seats, the second-highest number.

The patron of the KNP party, Khon Mar Koban, said that he did not participate in the election of the military council because he had no confidence in it and did not want to go against the will of the people. He added that “To be clear, this election is based on the 2008 Constitution, the military council aims to keep 25 percent of the soldiers’ representatives in the parliament and enslave the entire people, so our party does not believe in his election.”

On January 29, the National League for Democracy (NLD), which runs for election nationwide, said that it will oppose the junta’s sham election and will consider those who help the military council as traitors to the state.

The Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) and the Demoso People’s Defense Force (DMO-PDF), which are fighting with the regime troops, also issued a joint statement on January 28 saying that they would not allow the junta election to hold in Karenni State.

Furthermore, the KNDF has warned those who are supporting the military’s election processes in Karenni State that they will oppose the election in various ways.

More than 200,000 people have fled their homes in Karenni State, which is home to nearly 300,000 people, as a result of fighting between the military council and resistance forces.

Civil organizations in the region are questioning the military council as to how they will implement the people-based election, as there are no more people in the city due to the civil war.

News-Than Lwin Times

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