Myanmar Opposition Party Demands Election Rerun With Military Involvement
By San Yamin Aung 11 November 2020
YANGON—Disputing its humiliating defeat at the polls on Sunday, Myanmar’s military proxy opposition party has demanded the country’s electoral body hold the election again in cooperation with the military.
While the Union Election Commission (UEC) has yet to finalize the results, preliminary vote counts show that as of Wednesday morning the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had won 399 seats in the country’s Union Parliament—more than enough to form a government—while the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) had managed to secure just 21.
At a press conference in Yangon on Wednesday, the USDP said the NLD government-appointed UEC had failed to manage the election properly, and called for a rerun.
“For a free, unbiased and disciplined vote, hold the election again in cooperation with the military,” an official from the USDP, which was formed by ex-generals, said at a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Yangon three days after the election.
The USDP alleged the commission recruited NLD youth supporters to staff polling stations where there were not enough teachers, and extended the advance voting period for over-60s until Nov. 7, after previously announcing it would end on Nov. 5. It also alleged numerous incidents of electoral malpractice including voter list errors and cases in which voters received more than one voting slip. (The UEC issued to each voter a slip containing a serial number and the number of their polling station, to produce as identification before voting.) Election observers have rejected the claims, however, saying that the requirement that voters have their pinkies stained in ink after voting would prevent such abuses.
The USDP also complained about the General Administration Department’s distribution of rice and cooking oil to poor people affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, saying it was tantamount to vote-buying by the ruling party. The government has periodically provided free basic foodstuffs to poor people since COVID-19 hit the country in late March.
“They conducted the vote unfairly. We are willing to face them in a free and fair election, but I can’t totally accept this election result,” an Upper House candidate from the USDP said at the press conference.
Responding to the USDP’s complaints, UEC member U Myint Naing told reporters at a press conference in Naypyitaw on Wednesday that the opposition party’s call for a new election did not affect the UEC. He said the election was conducted successfully despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, and had been widely accepted as credible.
“They are making baseless allegations to create misunderstanding. Follow the law. [They should] file complaints or objections if they have evidence of any malpractice or fraud, as per the law,” the commissioner said.
On Tuesday, USDP chair and ex-general U Than Htay appeared in a video saying that the legitimacy of the outcome remained in dispute and that the party would thus mount a legal challenge to establish whether the election results were fair and lawful. He called on the party’s supporters to collect evidence of election fraud and submit it to the party.
“We will try to get the results our supporters want,” he said in the video. The USDP has so far claimed 21 seats—an even worse showing than it achieved in the 2015 election, when it secured 41 seats in the Union Parliament.
NLD spokesperson Dr. Myo Nyunt told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that “They can submit complaints if they have enough evidence.”
The USDP said at Wednesday’s press conference that the party would raise objections in the various states and regions and call for election reruns.
The UEC announced that it would finalize the election results this week.