International Election Observers and Journalists Arrive in Burma

By Election, The Irrawaddy 29 March 2012

Around 100 international observers and journalists arrived in Burma on Wednesday in order to monitor the by-elections on April 1, according to sources in Rangoon.

Rangoon International Airport has seen a deluge of foreign onlookers touch down in recent days. They will all be briefed about the regulations of election observation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before the ballot begins on Sunday.

All domestic and international election observers have to wear special ID cards when monitoring the poll, according to a domestic election official.

The Burmese authorities have also been issuing these cards to all official election personnel. There are 159 international election observers in total including foreign diplomats, journalists and election specialists.

At Rangoon airport, a sign informing foreign journalists to register at a separate counter was erected on Wednesday near the immigration department. A six-page guideline pamphlet for foreign reporters was handed out at the terminal upon arrival, according to the Thailand-based Bangkok Post English language newspaper.

In the document, the Ministry of Information stated that it could cancel the endorsement of any foreign media representative that failed to abide by election regulations.

Journalists are permitted to film and photograph the polling booths from afar, but are banned from entering inside them. They are also allowed to witness the vote counting, but must refrain from engaging voters in conversations that would amount to support for or opposition to any political party or candidate.

According to the Bangkok Post, Burma has accredited 300 foreign journalists to cover the April 1 by-elections. There are 600 foreign media representatives who applied to cover the by-elections, according to sources from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.