RANGOON — The general election slated for Nov. 8 is likely to be postponed after Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) met with some of the nation’s largest parties on Tuesday.
UEC chairman Tin Aye asked those present at the Naypyidaw meeting whether the election should be postponed due to lingering damage from August’s floods crisis.
Representatives from seven of the 10 political parties invited to the meeting were present, including the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the National League for Democracy (NLD), the National Democratic Force, the National Development Party (NDP), Arakan National Party, the National Unity Party and the Myanmar Farmers Development Party (MFDP).
“During the meeting, U Tin Aye asked whether we should postpone the election because people may have difficulties in casting votes because of the natural disasters,” said Nay Min Kyaw, the secretary of National Democratic Front, who was present at the meeting.
Win Htein, a central executive committee member of the NLD, said Tin Aye wanted a nationwide postponement of the election and the UEC was expected to announce its decision in the coming days.
The USDP, NDP and MFDP supported the postponement while the NLD objected to the plan. The other three parties deferred the decision to the commission.
“When U Tin Aye proposed it they replied, ‘As you like, Mr Chairman’,” Win Htein said of the three abstaining parties.
Section 10(f) of the Union Election Commission law gives the body the power to postpone and cancel elections in constituencies affected by natural disasters.
Win Htein said that the NLD objected to the proposal because the former military regime sent the nation to the polls in May 2008 to approve the country’s Constitution, the week after Cyclone Nargis made landfall in the Irrawaddy Delta and killed an estimated 140,000 people.
“The NLD objected as the excuse was lame,” Win Htein told The Irrawaddy. “Even in 2008 during Cyclone Nargis, the referendum was not postponed. What happened now is not even a thousandth of the destruction we suffered at that time.”
More than 100 people died and a further 1.6 million people were displaced by the floods disaster, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The UEC separately announced on Tuesday that the election would be canceled in over 400 village tracts across Burma, with state media reporting that it was “impossible to hold elections in a free and fair manner” in those locations.
The election will not be held in 211 village tracts across 11 townships in Kachin State, 94 village tracts in seven Karen State townships, 41 village tracts across two Pegu Division townships, one village tract in Mon State’s Bilin Township, and 56 village tracts in eight Shan State townships, according to the UEC.