Imran Hussain – 2015 Parliamentary Question to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Imran Hussain on 2015-11-10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what reports he has received of (a) disqualifications of parliamentary candidates, (b) disenfranchisement of ethnic groups and (c) inaccuracy and omissions from the voter lists in elections in Burma in November 2015.

Mr Hugo Swire

The British Govenment was concerned by the disqualification of parliamentary candidates, which disproportionately affected Muslim nominees. Of the 6,074 candidates who registered, 99 nominations were rejected, of which 22 were Muslim. Of these, 67 appealed, and 24 decisions were overturned of which 11 were Muslim. The EU Election Observation Mission’s (EOM) preliminary statement of 10 November stated that since the rejections predominantly focused on the strict application of the citizenship requirement, this impacted particularly heavily on Muslim candidates. The EU EOM estimated that only 28 Muslim candidates stood in total. The UK has regularly expressed its deep disappointment with the decision to revoke Temporary Residence Cards (‘White Cards’) which effectively disenfranchised the Rohingya community from the vote, as well as some other minorities. The EU EOM noted that, as a result, universal suffrage was not properly provided for, and the elections were not fully inclusive. Improving the conditions for the Rohingya remains a top priority for the UK. As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymead and Weybridge (Mr Hammond) said in his statement of 10 November: ‘The UK stands ready to support the people of Burma as they continue to work towards a more democratic and accountable government, including those unable to vote in this election.’ Ahead of polling day there were widespread concerns about the accuracy of the voter lists. However, on the day, the EU EOM noted that: ‘Most voters, in polling stations visited, found their names on the voter list, but in 7% of polling stations visited some absences on the list were observed.’