NAYPYITAW—The Union Election Commission (UEC) has dismissed an open letter sent by the military-backed and former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and its allies alleging that the electoral process the commission oversees is not transparent.
In the letter, dated May 23, the USDP and its 25 allied parties list ten points they want to see addressed and criticize the commission for meeting only three times with political parties in three years, adding that the duration of those meetings was also too short.
UEC spokesperson U Myint Naing said on Tuesday that the commission rejected the meeting request the letter called for on the grounds that it was sent with dubious intentions.
“It is not a request for a normal meeting with honest intent. The letter includes things that are defamatory to the UEC, that belittle the functions of the UEC and that can cause public misunderstanding of the commission’s activities,” he said.
The letter also did not mention what particular provisions the parties would like to amend in the electoral law and by-laws, U Myint Naing said, adding that any party is free to make suggestions at any time to amend the laws.
Currently, there are 98 political parties registered with the UEC. Of the 26 that signed and sent the open letter to the UEC, only seven of them are represented in the national legislature, according to the commission.
USDP spokesperson U Nanda Hla Myint told The Irrawaddy that the UEC’s impartiality cannot be proven without meeting and holding talks with political parties, adding that, with a general election coming up next year, these meetings are necessary preparations to ensure a free and fair election.
“This can be resolved only through a bilateral meeting,” he said.
The open letter also states that the upcoming general elections, scheduled for 2020, will not be free and fair if the UEC does not first fix the way it operates.
U Myint Naing said the commission already plans to meet with political parties and civil society organizations in regions and states across the country beginning this month.
U Myo Nyunt, spokesperson of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), said at a meeting of the party’s central executive committee on June 8 that the party would do its best to guarantee elections are free and fair. He also denied allegations that the UEC is largely made up of core NLD supporters.
The UEC said that the next general elections are planned to be held in November next year.
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