Local Wa unaware of 2020 election

Nyii Kah / March 13, 2020

Ordinary Wa residents in Panghsang, Wa State are not aware of recent negotiation between Wa leaders and the Burma’s Union Election Commission plan to set up the polling stations in Wa controlled region for 2020 Burma’s general election.

“I haven’t heard about it,” said a businessman, who is in condition of anonymity, in Panghsang. Local Wa people in the region don’t even have a clue what the election means, he added. He even questioned “election from Burma coming to Wa region?”

The businessman thinks that the election issue sounds like Wa leaders are trying to strike a secrete deal with Burmese, and it’s not the case to inform local people. Majority of Wa people don’t have Burmese-citizenship card and only a couple thousand, the businessman guessed, who currently residing in Wa region can vote if the election comes. Most of the Burmese-citizenship card holders are Burmese migrant workers from different parts of the country.

In early of this month, United Wa State Army (UWSA) leaders reportedly announced that it would collaborate Burmese government to install polling stations in Wa region in coming Burma’s general election which schedule to hold in November 2020.

UWSA controlled Wa State, also know as Wa self-administered region, in the country’s northeastern frontier which bordered with China, was not a participant region of Burma’s previous elections held in 2010 and 2015. Wa leaders also invited Burma’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Wa capital Panghsang.

UWSA is one of the biggest non-state actors in the world with estimated 30,000 troops equipped with sophisticated weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles. The ethnic armed organization was formed in April 1989 after staging the mutiny against defunct Communist Party of Burma in Panghsang and later reached a ceasefire deal with previous Burmese military regime, State Law and Order Restoration Council.

Nyii Kah is a reporter based in Panghsang, Wa State.