Western Embassies, UN Chief Urge Myanmar Military to Respect Democracy

By Nan Lwin 29 January 2021

YANGON—Diplomatic missions in Myanmar including those of the US, UK and EU have issued a joint statement opposing any attempt to alter the outcome of Myanmar’s Nov. 8 election or impede its democratic transition, after the military raised the prospect of a coup if its claims of electoral fraud were ignored.

“We urge the military, and all other parties in the country, to adhere to democratic norms,” they said.

The missions said they look forward to the peaceful convening of the Parliament on Feb. 1 and the election of the president and speakers.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) won Myanmar’s Nov. 8 general election in a landslide. NLD candidates won 920 of the 1,117 elected seats nationwide, including seats in both houses of the bicameral Union Parliament and the state/regional parliaments, as well as ethnic affairs minister posts. As a result, the new Parliament will be heavily dominated by the party when it convenes on Monday.

“We affirm our support for Myanmar’s democratic transition and efforts to promote peace, human rights, and development in the country,” the diplomats said.

They also congratulated the Myanmar people on their “historic participation” in the Nov. 8 general election.

Tension has risen in Myanmar’s capital over statements from the military in which it refused to rule out the possibility of a military coup if its demand for an investigation into claims of electoral fraud were not met. In the latest escalation of the tension, military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said the military-drafted 2008 Constitution should be revoked if its laws are not being followed. Many interpreted the remark as a threat of a military takeover.

The military claims to have found 8.6 million irregularities that could lead to potential voter fraud in all 314 townships in the states and regions. On Thursday, the Union Election Commission (UEC) rejected all of the military’s claims of electoral fraud in the November general election, including its allegations of voting malpractice and of cases in which people voted more than once.

The diplomats said, “We support all those who work toward greater democratic freedoms, lasting peace and inclusive prosperity for the people of Myanmar.”

The statement was signed by the missions of the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the delegation of the EU, Denmark, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway.

On Thursday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed “great concern” about recent developments in Myanmar and urged all actors in the country to adhere to democratic norms and to respect the outcome of the Nov. 8 general election.

Guterres said all electoral disputes should be resolved through established legal mechanisms.

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