Anger at ‘fraudulent’ vote rages on

The opposition National Democratic Force has claimed 16 seats so far but accusations of widespread vote rigging continue to dominate Burma’s post-election political landscape.

The pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has already claimed victory from Sunday’s polls, the first held in Burma for 20 years, after counting  began soon after the polls had closed. One party official said yesterday that it had won 80 percent of the vote.

Dr Myat Nyarna Soe, the NDF’s Rangoon division secretary, said that the party won four seats in the Nationalities Parliament, eight in the People’s Parliament and four in the Regions and States Parliament.

He added that candidates from the NDF, the strongest opposition party running in the elections, appeared to be winning in Mandalay division constituencies until advance votes were factored in.

The complaint was echoed by the All Mon Region Democracy Party, who fielded 34 candidates in the polls. Hla Khine, the party’s People’s Parliament candidate in Moulmein, said that he was defeated because of advance votes.

He said that he was leading over rival USDP candidate Aye Myint by 40 votes in one “important” ward of Moulmein before advance votes thrust Aye Myint into the lead. He eventually won by more than 2,500 votes.

“The situation turned upside down when the bag of advance votes arrived,” Hla Khine said, adding that the party was hoping to file a complaint to the Election Commission (EC) about irregular vote counting.

The cost of filing a complaint however is inordinate: parties must pay one million kyat ($US1,000) for each submission; a hefty sum in Burma where GDP per capita is only around $US220.

“It’s a very long procedure,” said Hla Khine. “After we submit the one million kyat, the EC will form a panel to [investigate the complaint].

“The panel will then inform the other party [accused] and they will also have to pay one million kyat. And then we’ll have to go through the legal procedure which may take three to four years.”

The elections have been roundly condemned by much of the international community, while many of Burma’s regional neighbours – particular China and Vietnam – have voiced support for the vote.

The USDP had been widely tipped to sweep the polls after election laws were unveiled earlier this that rendered any chance of an opposition victory almost impossible.

Additional reporting by Aye Nai

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