The European Union’s Election observation mission unveiled its final report on last November’s national election today in Rangoon. While describing the vote as “by and large a success”, the observation body, which arrived in September of 2015, highlighted several structural problems that damaged the credibility of the vote.
The legal framework for the elections “does not fully provide for the conduct on genuine elections, with limitation concerning the number of seats directly elected to the parliament, the right to vote and the right to stand, as well as an inadequate framework for the resolution of election disputes,” reads the report’s executive summary.
Speaking at a press conference in Rangoon on Thursday, the mission’s chief observer, European Parliament Vice President Alexander Lambsdorff, emphasised that future elections would need to be more inclusive to meet international standards.
“I for one find it strange that the parliament does not have a single Muslim MP … despite [the country] having a relatively large Muslim population,” he said.
In particular, the members of the mission pointed out that the 1982 Citizenship Act had been used to bar many Muslim voters and candidates from participating in the election. Calling the law “discriminatory and arbitrary” in nature, the EU mission noted that most of those affected by it were Rohingya Muslims.
“The citizenship issue is a discussion the country will have to have beyond the election,” said Lambsdorff. “It will be with you for some time.”
The EU vice president also used the press conference to call for ending the military’s right to appoint armed forces personnel to 25 percent of parliament seats.
“Elected institutions need to reflect the election result … The provision that 25 percent of seats are filled by appointees is not compatible with international standards,” he said.
Overall, however, the members of the mission said that they believed the elections had been mostly successful.
“The [Union Election Commission] must be congratulated on having achieved a momentous task. It is important, however, that the commission improves some of its practices so as to achieve a level of transparency and effectiveness which guarantees the confidence citizens in the process,” the mission said in its press release.