YANGON — The People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE) has urged Myanmar’s top election authority to announce details about the Nov. 3 by-elections as soon as possible so that parties and civil society groups can prepare to monitor the polls.
The Union Election Commission (UEC) announced the date of the election last month, along with an early voting schedule for those casting ballots away from their constituencies. It said observers could start registering for accreditation earlier this month and met with 72 parties contesting the November vote on Thursday in Naypyitaw to coordinate.
At a press conference in Yangon on Friday, PACE said it planned to deploy 600 observers on election day and that 24 of its people would monitor the campaign period leading up to the poll.
PACE Executive Director Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint said his group would have observers in all 12 townships taking part in the by-elections but did not have enough information to plan for the race for Shan ethnic affair minister in Mandalay Region, for which voting will be regionwide.
While other cabinet ministers are appointed by the president, the 29 ethnic affairs ministers are elected.
“We don’t have specific information yet on how many voting stations will be there for the voters to cast their ballots for the Shan ethnic affair minister,” Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint told The Irrawaddy.
“We heard three of the 26 townships in Mandalay have no ethnic Shan residents and some of them have very few, and that in those areas with few residents they will have to vote at the sub-electoral commission office. Only when we know about the voting stations and the statistics on Shan residents in the 23 townships can we include it in our monitoring list,” he said.
The PACE director said independent election monitors recommended some changes to the UEC after the elections in 2015 and 2017 and wanted to know what came of them.
“We want to know what changes have been made and what still needs to be changed. These are also equally important for the upcoming by-election and the general election in 2020,” he said.
Their recommendations included more transparency, changing the structure of the UEC, improving the voter lists and reviewing the composition of constituencies.
At Friday’s press conference, PACE also announced its plans to survey registered voters in the townships participating in the by-election on their views. It said the survey would start later his month and finish in early July.