Burma too busy for by-elections, says Election chief

Burma too busy for by-elections, says Election chief

The chairman of Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) has stated that the state is too busy—and the seats in question too few—to consider holding by-elections ahead of the 2015 general election.

He pointed to Burma’s chairmanship of the ASEAN bloc next year, the country’s preparations for the SEA Games in December, and the logistics involved in conducting a census in 2014 as major responsibilities that Burma must undertake in the meantime.

Speaking at a meeting involving representatives of 32 political parties at the Rangoon regional government office on Friday, UEC Chairman Tin Aye said that only 3.07 percent of seats in the Lower House remained vacant while just 2.38 percent of seats in the Upper House had no constituents.

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During a parliamentary session in June, Tin Aye said there were 15 vacant seats in total: six in the lower house; four in the upper house; and five in state and regional assemblies.

However, Khin Maung Swe, the chairman of the National Democratic Force, said his party had already invested money campaigning and preparing for by-elections, especially in Kachin State where security concerns had prevented elections being held previously in many constituencies.

In 2010, the UEC postponed by-elections in some 300 villages nationwide due to conflict and security concerns, the majority of townships affected being in Kachin, Shan, Mon, Karen and Karenni states.

“All our money, human resources and spiritual strength have been in vain if by-elections are suspended again,” said Khin Maung Swe, though he did acknowledge that the UEC chairman’s reasons for denying elections in these areas are hard to deny.

In his speech on Friday, Tin Aye warned political parties not to seek support abroad and promised to hold the 2015 election in conformity with the law and under free and fair conditions.

He said that no date had yet been scheduled for the next general election.

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