Accreditation available for April by-election observers
INTERNATIONAL and local polling place watchdogs can now apply to be accredited by the Union Election Commission as observers for the 2017 byelection, scheduled to be held on April 1, the UEC announced on October 31.
The by-election will put 19 seats up for grabs, with those constituencies currently lacking legislative representation. Last year, the UEC was criticised by international and local election monitors for several issues in the lead-up to the November general election, including numerous mistakes in voter lists. In order to avoid problems in the upcoming by-election, the UEC has pledged to get an early start on preparations.
The leader of the Horn Bill organisation, founded in 2010 to promote a democratic culture in Myanmar, said his group will deploy about 250 observers for the by-election.
“We will hold trainings for observers before the election,” said Horn Bill executive director Ko Chan Hlan.
During the general election, observers had to pick up their accreditation ID cards at their respective township offices, but when they arrived, some of the requirements for claiming the cards were different than had been previously discussed, he said.
“Some of the branch offices of the UEC did not give out cards to our representatives so it was difficult,” Ko Chan Hlan said. “This time I asked the UEC to give our organisation all the cards and promised to send them detailed name lists. They said OK.”
The executive director of the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE), Ko Sai Ye Kyaw Swer Myint, said they will have 800 observers working during, and leading up to, Election Day.
They are planning to review the voter lists, which the UEC is currently compiling, by going door-to-door, he said. The alliance has asked the UEC to provide a soft-copy of the rosters.
“We want to check their updated voter lists by going on the ground to those constituencies,” he said. “Our main goal is to check whether or not this can be done nationwide.”
The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) has confirmed its intention to put forward candidates in all of the 2017 races.
Shan State has the most seats up for grabs, with eight. Fighting in areas like Mine Shu/Mong Shu and Kyethi townships led the UEC to nix the vote there in 2015, but it intends to fill six seats in those two townships in the by-election.
For security reasons, Ko Chan Hlan said, authorities need to release updated information about the constituencies where the by-election is planned.
“In some of the constituencies, like Mong Shu or Kyethi, the authorities need to announce up-to-date information so then we can direct our observers to respond based on the situation and conditions,” he said.
Ko Sai Ye Kyaw Swer Myint from PACE said their observers would go to all the polling stations where the UEC has organised a vote.
“According to the election schedule and list, all the villages in Mong Shu and Kyethi will be included in the byelection and that means those regions are stable,” he said.
Election observer accreditation request forms can be downloaded from the UEC website, www.uecmyanmar. org, and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications can be submitted up until 15 days before the election.