Election 2020

Myanmar Military Launches Review of Election After Proxy Party Cries Foul

By San Yamin Aung 1 December 2020

YANGON— Responding to its proxy party’s claims of fraud in last month’s general election, Myanmar’s military said Monday it would review the electoral process to determine whether it was conducted in accordance with the law after learning of election-related disputes across the country.

The military (or Tatmadaw) released a statement announcing its review a few days after its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) complained that its calls for a probe of the election and the Union Election Commission (UEC) had fallen on deaf ears.

The Tatmadaw True News Information Team said in the statement that the military is scrutinizing and reviewing the process in 218 townships where military personnel and their family members cast votes on Nov. 8.

Depending on the findings of its review, any electoral irregularities will be submitted to the UEC, it added.

The military has also called on the UEC to instruct the respective election sub-commissions to provide the Tatmadaw with copies of election-related documents to facilitate its review, saying its goal is “to recognize a free and fair election without suspicion”.

It also stated that “the President should supervise and control the functions of the UEC to [ensure they are] legal, righteous, just and fair”, as he appointed the commissioners.

Myanmar military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing / Htet Naing Zaw / The Irrawaddy

Disputing its humiliating electoral defeat, the USDP has alleged mass electoral fraud across the country, filing more than 1,000 objections and electoral complaints in spite of the fact that international and domestic election observers reported no major irregularities at the polls.

Regarding the military’s decision to review the election process, Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint, executive director of Myanmar’s largest election monitor group PACE, said existing election laws and regulations don’t grant separate authority to the military to scrutinize the election.

“It is for political parties and candidates to raise objections, and they are doing that. The military’s interference and investigation will only lead to challenges to the election process and the democratic transition,” he said.

PACE gave a positive assessment of the election in its preliminary findings based on observations on election day. Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint said there were no major incidents or discrepancies reported.

He added that while there were some weaknesses in terms of procedures at some polling stations, portraying the election as not free and fair in all constituencies was “unacceptable”.

In the Nov. 8 poll, the USDP fielded over 1,000 candidates but won only 71 of the 1,113 seats up for grabs. The National League for Democracy won 920.

Military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said earlier he would accept an election result that reflected the people’s will.

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