MANDALAY—Following worries that Myanmar’s general election will be delayed due to COVID-19, the Union Election Commission (UEC) announced on Thursday that the election will be held in November as scheduled.
At a press conference in Naypyidaw, the UEC officials said that the commission is preparing to hold the election as scheduled, as the COVID-19 situation in the country is at a controllable stage and there is time to prepare for the election.
“We will not change. The election will be in November, as we held it in past years, as scheduled,” said U Myint Naing, spokesperson for the UEC.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused voters, political parties, politicians and election watchdog organizations to worry whether the election and related processes will be delayed due to measures such as travel restrictions, social distancing and guidelines that discourage crowds.
The commission’s spokesperson also said that the UEC will announce the date of the election as usual and will carry out pre-election processes step-by-step as planned.
In 2010, the UEC announced the election date two months and 24 days in advance of the vote, which happened on Nov. 7.
In 2015, the UEC announced the date four months ahead of election day, which was Nov. 8. In 2015, election campaigns were allowed to operate from Sept. 8 to Nov. 6.
According to the UEC, the commission held a meeting on the preparation of constituencies across the country with state and regional election commission chiefs.
Myanmar has over 37 million voters as of March 3, with military personnel and their families yet to be counted, according to the UEC. In the 2015 election, there were about 32 million eligible voters.
In November 2019, the commission proposed to abolish polling stations and campaigning inside military cantonments. However, at Thursday’s press conference, the UEC did not mention the proposed change to polling stations for military personnel and their families. In the 2015 election, over 1 million out of 32 million eligible voters across the country were affiliated with the military.
If the commission’s proposed is accepted, military personnel and their family members will have to cast their votes outside of their military outposts and the candidates and observers will be able to freely enter and monitor the polling places.
According to UEC data released in May, 97 political parties have registered for the election, with 79 parties set to field candidates in countrywide elections and 18 parties set to participate only in their respective state and regional elections.
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