RANGOON — Burma’s Union Election Commission said Sunday that it was canceling by-elections planned for later this year to fill 35 empty parliamentary seats.
Commission Chairman Tin Aye made the surprise announcement at a media briefing in Rangoon.
Reasons he gave included preparations for the 2015 general election, Burma’s duties hosting the summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations in November, and an election law that says political parties must field at least three candidates or cease to exist, a requirement he described as burdensome for the country’s 67 political parties.
Tin Aye also said that next year’s elections would most likely take place in November, the most specific time mentioned so far.
The commission had announced in March that by-elections would be held later this year to fill more than 30 seats vacated for various reasons.
One lower house member, Khaing Maung Yi, said that he had not heard anything about the decision, and that the reasons given were just excuses.
“They should hold the elections since they have already announced them,” he said.
Nyan Win, a spokesman for democracy icon Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, said that while it wasn’t good that the commission had decided to cancel the by-elections, the NLD supports the decision because it was not enthusiastic about them.
Burma’s legislature has 224 members in the upper house and 440 in the lower house. Twenty-five percent of each house is occupied by military appointees.