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Dozens of people in the state capital of Pegu Division staged a protest on Tuesday after local authorities said they would recall an elected ward administrator on the grounds that he is disabled.
The decision, which was announced on Monday, provoked an angry response from residents of Kyunthaya Ward who had elected a local man named Zaw Zaw to be their administrator despite knowing about his condition.
“People in our ward knew of his disabilities but we decided to elect him and we won’t accept the authorities’ move to undo this,” said local resident Kyin Hmwe.
“The township officials also knew about [Zaw Zaw’s] disabilities with his leg and back but they qualified him as a candidate anyway. It was only after he won that they decided to make an issue of it.”
The protestors sought permission to stage the rally in accordance with the 2014 Peaceful Protest and Peaceful Procession Law, but their application was denied. When they took to the streets on Tuesday, police warned them that they could face charges for holding an unauthorised march.
The Pegu township administrator Khin Thein Maung told DVB that a formal investigation into Zaw Zaw’s physical health was ordered in response to a complaint. Township health officials later ruled that Zaw Zaw was clinically unfit for the role, he said.
Protest leader Naing Naing Aung rejected the ruling, calling it “a lie”.
“The investigation committee should be transparent with their report. [They should] open it for public access since this appears to be the only piece of evidence cited by the authorities concerning their decision and we see that as a lie.”
Reporting by Min Nyo