Rights group: Myanmar election 39fundamentally flawed39| MENAFN.COM

Wednesday, 01 February 2023 03:05 GMT

Rights group: Myanmar election 39fundamentally flawed39

(MENAFN- The Journal Of Turkish Weekly) Myanmar’s highly anticipated election is “fundamentally flawed” an international rights group said in a statement Wednesday.

Brad Adams Asia director at Human Rights Watch named a biased election watchdog the exclusion of Rohingya Muslims and the fact that a quarter of all seats in parliament will automatically go to the military as important problems.

“Long lines of voters on November 8 won’t make these fundamentally flawed elections free and fair” he said.

Millions will go to the polls Sunday to vote in the first general election to be contested by the opposition for 25 years.

The reformist government has touted the ballot as free and fair even as grave failings in the process have emerged.

Among the most controversial is the fact that some 700000 Rohingya Muslims were stripped of their voting rights earlier this year in response to protests by ultra-nationalist Buddhists.

Adams also claimed that Myanmar’s Union Election Commission (UEC) lacks independence and impartiality.

Its chairman Tin Aye is a former general and stepped down as an MP for the ruling USDP party immediately before taking the job.

He has also expressed a bias for his former party while serving as UEC chairman.

“I want the USDP to win but to win fairly not by cheating” Aye said in June.

The election also lacks “appropriate mechanisms for resolving complaints” Human Rights Watch said.

If a complainant wants to appeal a decision the UEC will have the final say “without judicial oversight” and in violation of international norms the group added.

A recent report by the Carter Centre said that political parties in the regions its researchers visited “expressed concern that sub-commissions [of the UEC] might not act independently if put under pressure by local government officials”.

Myanmar’s military-drafted 2008 constitution enshrines another major barrier to a free and fair vote: 25 percent of all seats in parliament will be handed to unelected military MPs.

That gives the military a practical veto over changes to the constitution which require a 75 percent majority.

It also means that the military and the USDP can pool their votes to elect the next president who will be chosen by parliament next year.

“An election can’t be considered fair if 25 percent of the seats are handed to the military -- and the party it supports -- before a single vote is even cast” Adams said.

Despite the setbacks many still expect Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy to win the most seats in parliament.

On Sunday Suu Kyi a Nobel peace laureate addressed a crowd of tens of thousands at a rally in the commercial capital Yangon.

She told cheering supporters clad in red T-shirts and waving the flag of her party that she wants to win all of the elected seats.

“The sight of mass campaign rallies is a positive sign” Adams said “but they don’t make up for an electoral system that systematically favors one party over others.”

By Joshua Carroll

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