Ac­cred­i­ta­tion avail­able for April by-elec­tion ob­servers

The Myanmar Times - - News - SHOON NAING shoonnaing@mm­

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 Ap­pli­ca­tions can be sub­mit­ted up un­til 15 days be­fore the elec­tion.

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