Myanmar military and Arakan Army urged to halt fighting in Chin state during election

The Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA) must halt fighting in Paletwa, Chin state, for the duration of the election period to keep voters safe and guarantee a fair vote, a relief group in the region has said. 

The Khumi Affairs Coordination Council (KACC) called on both sides to stop detaining civilians, recruiting new fighters, and launching attacks until the November 8 poll was over.

“Afterwards they can keep fighting in the forest if they want to,” said KACC spokesperson Mai Nan Wai. 

There have been few intense clashes recently but the roads around Paletwa remain blocked, she added.

The six parties competing for seats in Paletwa are: the Khumi National Party, the Chin National League for Democracy, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, the United Democratic Party, the Ethnic National Development Party and the National League for Democracy.

There will be six candidates running for the Lower House seat in Paletwa, six for the Upper House seat, and seven for two seats in Chin’s state parliament.

The AA, along with the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, has announced a unilateral ceasefire from September 1 until November 9.

The Myanmar military has also announced a nationwide ceasefire, from September 1 to 30, but has specifically excluded the AA, which it labels a terrorist group, and continued to launch attacks in Rakhine and Chin states.  

At least 40 civilians have been killed, 12 detained, and 20 have gone missing, while over 100 homes have been burnt in Paletwa since the start of the conflict, figures from the Relief and Rehabilitation Committee for Chin IDPS showed. 

More than 10% of Paletwa’s population of some 100,000 people has been displaced by the fighting, while 60,000 people are suffering shortages of food and other supplies, the figures said.

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