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UEC okays poll monitors

Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) announced that candidates running in the upcoming by-elections would be allowed to post monitors at ballot stations to ensure fairness at the polls.

The announcement was published in state-run newspapers yesterday. According to the report, candidates will be able to have one party representative at each ballot station in constituencies where they’re running. The candidates are to submit the names of their selected representatives for approval by the commission in concerned townships one week ahead of the polls.

“In the 2010 elections, only the Union Solidarity and Development Party [monitors] were allowed inside ballot stations and were able to monitor the counting of ballots,” said Shan Nationalities Democratic Party’s candidate Saw Than Myint. “Our representatives were not even allowed near the stations.”

There is widespread belief among analysts that many western countries may begin to lift sanctions on Burma if the 1 April by-elections are regarded as free and fair.

In 1990, the country’s military junta allowed similar elections, which saw the National League for Democracy winning a majority of the available parliamentary seats in a landslide victory; however, the results were never honoured.

In the run up to the April by elections, political parties and their candidates have complained several times during the past two weeks of government tampering amid reports of the existence of fraudulent voter lists.


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