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Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) chairperson has confirmed that a first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system will be used for the upcoming general elections slated for later this year.
At a meeting with President Thein Sein and political party representatives in Rangoon on Monday, Tin Aye said the UEC’s deadline of the end of April for a decision to be made by parliament on a potential change to a proportional representation (PR) system had expired.
“We will continue to use the FPTP system in the upcoming elections for both the upper and lower houses of the parliament, and also for regional parliaments.
“The upper house was discussing a bill on PR. In April, I sent a letter to parliament as a reminder that we will not be able to implement the proposed system for the 2015 unless it is adopted by the end of the month,” said Tin Aye, who added that the PR system can be used in future elections, post-2015, if the necessary laws are adopted.
Tin Aye told the meeting that the UEC is yet to identify administrative areas that require the appointment of representatives of ethnic nationalities. The 2008 Constitution provides for national race representatives to be appointed in administrative regions that boast a “suitable population” of a single ethnic group, deemed to be 0.1 percent. That representative is then “entitled to participate in the legislature of regions or states” to “undertake their national race affairs”.
“Designating constituencies for [representatives of] ethnic nationalities has been a big headache for us, and concerned government ministries must provide us with the necessary information in a timely fashion,” he added. “We are designating constituencies for ethnic groups with at least 0.1 per cent population in an administrative region, so the Immigration Department must provide us with these details.”
Saw Than Myint of the Federal Union Party told DVB that he hopes to see more ethnic MPs in the parliament and cabinet after the 2015 elections.
“In order to maintain ethnic unity, real ethnic parties that represent their relevant populations in administrative regions should also be given a chance to take part in government, instead of just having strong parties from central Burma sweeping all of the government positions,” said Saw Than Myint.
The UEC chairperson indicated that the 2015 election is likely to take place during the final week of October or the first week of November, and that a specific date will be announced at least 90 days in advance.