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Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) has rejected suggestions by opposition MPs to postpone the November general election amid concerns over voter list irregularities.
In a meeting with political parties on Tuesday, UEC chairman Tin Aye said the polls will go ahead as planned.
Representatives of the Myanmar Farmers Development Party (MFDP) and National League for Democracy (NLD) in earlier meetings proposed rescheduling the national election until errors in the voter lists had been corrected, stressing that the polling results may not be accurate.
“The Myanmar Farmers Development Party’s representative and the NLD’s U Nyan Win had previously suggested postponing the election date but U Tin Aye just now said the timeframe does not allow it,” said Kyaw Swar Soe, the MFDP chairperson, who was present at the meeting.
Kyaw Swar Soe added that, at the meeting, some MPs proposed an extension to the time period for candidate list submissions, which opened on 20 July and are set to close on 8 August.
Tin Aye also rejected this suggestion, arguing that as parties were only allowed 14 days to submit candidates in the previous election, 20 days this time should be more than enough time.
“The timeframe should be sufficient, since we do not only prepare voter lists for people in the country but also those abroad. It would be impossible to postpone the date,” Tin Aye said.
Tuesday’s meeting was joined by representatives from 76 of 88 registered political parties, including parties that were only recently approved.
According to state media, the UEC recommend postponing the public referendum scheduled to take place alongside the elections on 8 November. The referendum will propose amending the wording of Constitutional Article 59(d), mandating that presidential candidates have knowledge of ‘defense’ rather than ‘military affairs’ as is the current requirement.
Parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann had previously suggested the referendum and elections be held at the same to cut down expenses. On Tuesday, he told the parliament the referendum could be held separately from the general polls, but it may cost the country around 4.7 billion kyat (US$3.9 million).