Myanmar military election official killed by guerrilla group in Yangon

In the latest of a series of attacks by resistance groups on regime targets, a senior member of the junta’s election commission was shot dead by a Yangon-based urban guerrilla group on Saturday.

Sai Kyaw Thu, the 58-year-old deputy director general of the election commission that the military regime reconstituted after the 2021 coup, was shot multiple times by two gunmen in his car. The attack took place after he had brought his wife to a Thingangyun Township clinic, according to statements issued by the regime and the guerrilla group claiming responsibility for the attack. His car, which was moving at the time, hit a roadside utility pole after the shooting. 

A guerrilla group called “For the Yangon” claims to have carried out the assassination of Sai Kyaw Thu, a retired lieutenant colonel and a prosecution witness in the military’s election fraud case against detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The case resulted in a three-year sentence for Suu Kyi, as well as for ousted President Win Myint and former minister of the President’s Office Min Thu, in September of last year. 

Sai Kyaw Thu had also previously served as the director of the Union Election Commission under Suu Kyi and Win Myint’s administration. 

Hours after the attack, the group published a Facebook post proclaiming “Mission Accomplished,” accompanied by pictures of Sai Kyaw Thu. 

A spokesperson for the Yangon Region Military Command Office—operating under the shadow, publicly mandated National Unity Government (NUG)—confirmed the circumstances and details of the attack to Myanmar Now on Saturday. The guerrilla group that killed Sai Kyaw Thu plans to continue targeting not only the junta’s generals, but any collaborators who are helping to sustain their rule, the spokesperson warned. 

The Myanmar junta issued a statement saying two members of the People’s Defence Force (PDF)—an umbrella of resistance groups that includes many chapters fighting under the NUG—carried out the assassination of Sai Kyaw Thu. The statement said that they approached on a “battery-powered motorcycle” and fired 12 rounds from a pistol before fleeing the scene. 

Sai Kyaw Thu suffered at least five gunshot wounds to his body, including in the forehead and neck, according to the junta’s statement. 

The junta has designated the PDF and NUG as terrorist organisations.

Since the coup regime announced plans for election-related activities such as collecting population data in January, several resistance groups have carried out assassinations targeting military-appointed election commission officials in various regions of the country. However, Sai Kyaw Thu is believed to be the most senior official targeted in such an attack to date. 

The military pointed to widely unsubstantiated claims of fraud and rejected the results of Myanmar’s 2020 election—in which the governing National League of Democracy won a majority—as a pretext for seizing power in February 2021. Since the coup, the junta has planned to hold new elections under its own authority. 

Various ethnic armed organisations, the NUG, and the PDF among other opposition groups have declared that they will not recognise the legitimacy of a junta-run election. 

No date has been set for the election thus far, and the junta hinted that it would be delayed indefinitely when it extended its period of emergency rule in February, citing challenges to establishing security and stability in the country. 

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