Starting today, political parties can officially contest the results from Sunday’s general election starting 11 November, according to the Union Election Commission.
The chairman of Naypyidaw’s election sub-commission in Pobbathiri Township, Tin Aung Kyi, said on Tuesday: “Formal complaints can now be lodged at courts for a 500,000 kyat (US$400) fee as provided in the electoral law and by-laws, and the court will see to the rest. This is all we have to say.”
Under Burma’s Parliamentary Electoral Law, parties that lodge a false or groundless complaint face imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to 300,000 kyat ($235). While the law is ambiguously worded, if enacted it can, in effect, punish a party or individual for lodging an unsuccessful complaint with the courts.
With an outright victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) looking increasingly inevitable, the onus will fall on the defeated Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to find fault with the balloting.
Election sub-commissions in eight townships within the Naypyidaw union territory have announced the local poll results. The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) won all contested seats in seven of the eight local townships, losing only in military-heavy Zayarthiri Township – which former army general Hla Htay Win secured successfully with some 15,000 votes over his closest rival.
The incumbent USDP candidate in Pobbathiri, former defence minister Lt-Gen Wai Lwin, was defeated by NLD candidate Yi Mon, with a margin of 176 votes.
Naypyidaw sub-commission chairman Tin Aung Kyi confirmed the USDP has lodged a total of three complaints contesting Yi Mon’s win.
“The USDP has alleged that voters were urging each other to vote for NLD – we are yet to verify this information,” Tin Aung Kyi said.
Although largely giving Burma’s electoral process a very high rating of approval, international observers have also leveled criticisms at some elements of the election, with three separate organisations calling the transparency around advance votes into question.
Meanwhile, rumours have swirled in Lashio, Shan State, that some 11,800 extra votes arrived after 4pm, the scheduled closing time for polling stations.
Addressing that issue, EU chief observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff stated at a press conference yesterday that the extra votes were not accepted, ensuring procedures remained unviolated.
He added: “Now one aspect, on which our mission has been critical in the past and remains critical, is the out-of-constituency advance voting. I spoke about the need for transparency just a minute ago – that part of the electoral process was not transparent. It was more like a black box. The counting of the out-of-constituency advance voting is taking place at the township level and we will continue to follow that,” he said.
In a separate press conference yesterday in Naypyidaw, co-founder of the Carter Centre, Jason Carter, also advised the Union Election Commission to prioritise transparency around the advance vote counting process.
“[We would] like to urge the urge the UEC over the next day or two, or week, to make sure that they are encouraging the publication of the results in the township level and the sub-commission level, especially out of respect to the out-of-constituency advance voting, to ensure that the results are transparent, and the tabulation process is transparent. That’s not only in accordance to international standards but it’s important for the public’s confidence and transparency in general,” he said.
A preliminary report published by the People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE) revealed that some 11 percent of advance votes across the country failed to arrive before 6am on election day. A further two percent of polling stations did not have a sufficient supply of ballot boxes, and another one percent lacked adequate resources such as: missing voter lists; lack of indelible ink for marking voters’ fingers; and ballot stamps.
Six percent of polling stations failed to count advance voters ahead of regular votes, PACE said, and 13 percent were found to have allowed non-authorised personnel inside polling stations, including military members and local government administrators.
PACE-Myanmar said it monitored the elections in 440 polling stations nationwide, with more than 2,000 observers deployed.
Read election results and analysis HERE