Election 2020

NLD Govt Slams Myanmar’s Military for Attacking Election Body

By The Irrawaddy 4 November 2020

The National League for Democracy government says military comments on the election are inciting instability and causing public concern, while violating the law and 2008 Constitution.

At Wednesday’s press briefing in Naypyitaw, government spokesman U Zaw Htay responded to the military’s statement on Monday and a follow-up interview with the commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, in the Popular News magazine on Tuesday.

“The Tatmadaw’s latest statement, which is based on groundless allegations by some political parties and individuals, is unhelpful to efforts to hold a free and fair election, but instead instigates concerns and instability,” said U Zaw Htay.

He added that the military chief’s interview “did not comply with the essence of the Constitution and the law”, in reference to Article 26(a) of the Constitution which states that civil servants, including the military and police, must be free from party politics.

The military on Monday accused the Union Election Commission (UEC) of incompetence, particularly regarding voter-list errors, disputes over early voting and weak supervision of political parties’ campaigning amid COVID-19 restrictions.

It stated that “the government has complete responsibility for all the intentional and unintentional mistakes of the commission at its different levels”.

The military said: “Criticism about how free and fair the election is should not be directed at the commission but at the government”, which is legally responsible for the UEC’s actions.

U Zaw Htay said the UEC is an independent body and the law does not say that it must be held accountable to the government.

He did acknowledge issues surrounding the UEC’s lack of logistical management over envelopes for votes and ballots boxes, adding that the government is investigating the issues.

Coming days before the Nov. 8 election, Sen-Gen Min Aung Hlaing’s interview prompted questions among political observers and diplomats in Yangon.

U Zaw Htay said the government is trying to hold a free and fair election, despite COVID-19, and that many allegations have been unfair.

The election on Nov. 8 is going to be held with COVID-19 preventative measures because any delay would last at least 77 days and have to include new-voter registration and voter-list checking, he added.

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