Myanmar UEC Warns Opposition Parties of Dissolution

By Zarni Mann 15 November 2019

Mandalay – Myanmar’s Union Election Commission (UEC) has warned the main opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and 19 other parties to stop spreading lies and defaming the commission or face dissolution.

The warning followed a joint statement by the 20 parties on Nov. 2 condemning the decision of the UEC to accept the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)’s tender to provide computers, printers and other election equipment.

Apart from condemning the lack of transparency of the tender system of the UEC, the 20 parties said the IFES’s cooperation for the 2020 general election amounted to foreign interference.

The joint statement said the IFES is funded by the US, USAid, the UK, Australia, Ireland, Canada, Sweden and the European Union and any of the funders could intervene in the election.

The 20 parties included the National Unity Party and New National Democracy Party.

“There is no transparency over the tender and we worry that the facts related to the election will be under the technical control of a foreign embassy or an organization or a person, which could affect the results,” said the joint statement.

It said the US-based IFES was involved in elections in 145 countries.

U Thein Tun Oo, spokesman for the USDP, said the party was collecting comments from all 20 political parties who signed the statement and would make an announcement soon.

“We are planning to hold a press conference soon to reply to the UEC’s warning. We cannot express an opinion yet,” he said.

The UEC said the accusations were inaccurate and undermined the credibility of the body while creating misunderstanding among voters.

“The UEC has told the 20 party leaders to stop repeating falsehoods. If they continue, the UEC will take legal action,” the body said in reference to Article 6 of the Political Party Registration Act.

The article says any registered party has to agree not to undermine the dignity and reputation of any other organization. Violations can result in parties being removed from the UEC’s party list.

According to the UEC, IFES is going to supply sub-commission offices at the township level with 1,300 computers and 330 printers ahead of the election.

The IFES is also giving technical support to the UEC in which the voters can check their names and polling station from their phone.

The IFES began working in Myanmar with civil society organizations on voter education programs before the by-elections in April 2012.

It began cooperation with the UEC in 2013 for electoral assessments and to provide technical support for the 2015 general election and by-elections in 2017.