Election Fraud Will Be Punished: EC

By Charlie Campbell, Election 3 April 2012

Burma’s Union Election Commission (EC) has vowed to investigate and prosecute any instances of fraud uncovered during Sunday’s seminal by-elections.

Pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a landslide victory in the weekend ballot, but many accusations emerged regarding voter list irregularities and ballot paper tampering.

The Irrawaddy reported on Sunday that thousands of people had been excluded from voter lists despite being eligible for the poll, as well as the same name repeated up to 20 times plus children and dead people included on the official register.

Other allegations were that wax was poured on the NLD portion of ballot papers so that supporters of the main opposition party would have their votes spoiled.

EC Director-General Win Ko told Radio Free Asia’s Burmese service that anyone found guilty of fraud would face the punishment of a year in prison provided proper evidence was uncovered.

“If the evidence is valid, whoever breaks the election law is subject to one year in prison,” he said in an interview on Monday. “However, in my opinion, it would not have been easy for someone to wax over 100,000 voting cards. We need evidence of who broke the law and when, and so far we haven’t received anything yet.”

The EC confirmed late on Monday that Suu Kyi’s NLD won 40 out of the 45 seats contested, with five yet to be called.

Meanwhile, David Steinberg, distinguished professor of Asian Studies, School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, said President Thein Sein was personally committed to the effectiveness of the by-elections.

“Those who believed the by-elections would be a sham have been proven wrong. Those who thought they would bring instant, [indisputable] democracy are also wrong,” he wrote.

“The Burmese military have devised a system of governance in which their control over those socio-political elements they regard as critical (military autonomy, national unity, national sovereignty, etc.) will remain in their hands.”