YANGON: Opposition candidates for one of Myanmar’s smallest constituencies are being blocked from visiting the remote island chain, a party spokesman said, just weeks ahead of elections billed as the country’s freest.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy party says its has repeatedly tried to secure passage to the Coco Islands in the Andaman sea, raising concerns authorities are trying to prevent the party from making gains in the Nov 8 polls.
“We’ve been trying to go there for more than a month but we have not been granted approval,” the NLD’s Win Htein said.
The NLD wanted to send three candidates yesterday by ferry but have not been given approval by the Yangon regional government, despite asking in writing for permission to travel.
Although they are a few hundred kilometres from land the Coco Islands, which has a population of between 1,000 and 2,000, fall under Yangon’s jurisdiction – a legacy of British colonial administration.
“It’s obvious that they (the authorities) are trying every way to stop us,” Win Htein added.
Myanmar’s election body said the NLD should have been given swift permission to travel to the islands.
“According to campaign rules, when (someone) requests permission, they need to give permission right away,” Thant Zin Aung from the Union Election Commission said. — AFP