Senior military-linked election official shot dead in Myanmar

Myanmar’s army blamed the killing on the anti-coup People’s Defence Forces who are fighting military rule in the country.

A group of women hold torches high above their heads as they protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer
A group of women hold torches as they protest against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar, in July, 2021 [File: Stringer/Reuters]

The deputy head of Myanmar’s military-appointed election commission has been shot dead in the country’s commercial capital Yangon by rebels, authorities said, the latest killing of a high-profile individual linked to the country’s military rulers.

Sai Kyaw Thu, deputy director of the Union Election Commission, was killed in the township of Thingangyun in eastern Yangon on Saturday, the army’s information team said in a statement. Local media reported that he was shot multiple times in the chest, neck and head.

The army statement said that “People’s Defence Forces” were responsible for the killing but did not give further details.

The self-declared anti-coup People’s Defence Forces (PDF) — loosely-organised, armed wings of the country’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) — have sprung up in opposition to the military which seized power more than two years ago, leading to social unrest and an economic crisis in the country.

The NUG was established by democratically-elected politicians who were removed from office in the military coup.

With Myanmar’s military continuing a bloody crackdown on dissent since seizing control of the country in 2021, PDF fighters have targeted officials known or perceived to be working with the military.

Military leaders had tasked the election commission with holding new polls, which opponents of the military say cannot possibly be free or fair.

Last month, the commission dissolved Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party over its failure to re-register under tough new military-drafted electoral rules.

The military removed Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February 2021 after her party had trounced military-backed parties at elections in 1990, 2015 and 2020.

Across the country, there are almost daily killings of low-level officials working with the military or alleged informers. Bloody reprisals from the military often follow quickly.

In April last year, the deputy governor of Myanmar’s central bank, appointed by the military days after it seized power, was shot by unknown assailants at her house in Yangon.

In November 2021, a top executive from Mytel — a telecoms venture between the military and Vietnamese firm Viettel — was gunned down outside his Yangon home.

The military’s power grab has also prompted renewed fighting with ethnic rebels and birthed dozens of other opposition groups now battling across the country.

Source: AFP