Election 2020

Myanmar’s Election Body Rejects Military Moves to Seize Voting Documents

By Htun Htun 3 December 2020

Yangon – Myanmar’s Union Election Commission (UEC) on Tuesday instructed its sub-commissions not to hand out electoral documentation without its permission a day after Myanmar’s military called for documents to be provided in its probe into claims of fraud in last month’s general election.

The military said on Monday it would review the electoral process to determine if it was held lawfully after its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) complained that its calls for a probe had been ignored.

The military’s Tatmadaw True News Information Team said the armed forces are scrutinizing and reviewing the process in 218 townships where military personnel and their relatives voted on Nov. 8.

Depending on the findings of its review, any electoral irregularities will be submitted to the UEC, it added. The military called on the UEC to instruct its sub-commissions to provide military personnel with copies of documents, saying its goal is “a free and fair election took place without suspicion”.

U Soe Htut Oo, secretary of Magwe Region election sub-commission, said: “[The UEC] has instructed us not to hand over any documents other than those which they can legally ask for. It fears we might accidentally hand over secret documents. Such instructions are normal.”

Kachin State election sub-commission secretary U Tun Aung Khaing said the UEC will be informed if the Tatmadaw (military) asks for documents.

“The UEC told us to seek its permission if we are asked to provide any documents. It is a normal instruction,” said U Tun Aung Khaing.

He said battalions in some townships, including Mohnyin, have asked for documents, and the sub-commission would report the request to the UEC.

Daw Mya Nandar Thin, a spokeswoman for the New Myanmar Foundation, which monitored the Nov. 8 voting, said she is concerned the Tatmadaw’s call for documents will reduce the ability of personnel and their relatives to vote freely in future elections.

She suggested the UEC should post public data on its website rather than providing it to individual organizations.

Electoral law allows documents like voter lists to be made public but other paperwork can only be reviewed when electoral tribunals and the UEC give instructions, according to the electoral body.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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