Friday, 10 April 2020

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) of Maungdaw Township held elections on January 21 in village tracts to form the Village Livelihood Development Committee (VLDC), the Village Social Development Committee (VSDC), and the Village Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Committee (VDRRC), said a local businessman on condition of anonymity. 

On that day, the Chairman of the Election Commission (EC) U Soe Too Hlaing of UNDP went to the village tracts of Maung Nama and Kawar Bill of Maungdaw Township and oversaw elections to choose members for the committees.

A village elder who declined to be named said that the Election Commission chairman did not inform all villagers in advance regarding the elections, and secretly gave information only to his followers. The Chairman was bribed by some members such as Serazul Islam and Md Sidique. Serazul Islam paid a bribe of 300,000 kyat, while Md. Sidique paid 150,000 kyat to the EC chairman.

The election was held in six villages: Maung Nama Ngay, and Mizilla Para of Maung Nama Village Tract; Kawar Bill South Village, Kawar Bill West Village, and Kawar Bill East Village of Kawar Bill Village Tract; and another one village named Wabeg of Wabeg Village Tract. The EC Chairman U Soe Too Hlaing has been in control of these six villages.

In the said villages, the EC chairman held elections with 30 villagers, including some old committee members. Other villagers did not participate in the election because they were not informed about the proceedings. The old committee members kept the elections secret out of fear of not being re-elected, said a local elder. 

The EC chairman formed the VLDC with six members, including one female, with Serazul Islam as the chairman. In addition, the EC Chairman also formed the VSDC with six members, including one female, with Md. Sidique as Chairman.

Another committee, the Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Committee (DRRC), with 11 members, was formed in these villages by U Soe Too Hlaing, the local elder reported.

In addition, another EC Chairman, Abul Fayas formed such committees in the villages of Pawet Chaung, Balu Khali, and Wa Pyin under the Pawet Chaung village Tract where Jamil and Nurul Islam became chairmen of VLDC and VSDC.

Regarding the elections, most of the villagers were not satisfied with the results, so a petition with signatures was submitted to the higher concerned authorities to hold elections again in the villages. Villagers are waiting to see what action the authorities will take in future regarding the petition, a local trader who prefers not to give his name said. 

The incumbent committee members were re-elected in the elections. They believed not to be sincere in financial matters as they misused a lot of money last year from UNDP funds with the co-operation of some higher authorities, said a school teacher from the locality.