Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services
Announcement of stance on situation of the pre-2020 multiparty democracy general election
(2nd Waning of Thadingyut, 1382 ME)
(2 November, 2020)
1. The Tatmadaw had played the leading role in conducting implementations and reforms for the adoption of the multiparty democracy, aspired by the people, in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. During the 2010 multiparty democracy general election, the Union Election Commission, chaired by U Thein Soe was formed, and a free and fair multiparty democracy general election could be held. Likewise, during the 2015 multiparty democracy general election, the Union Election Commission, chaired by U Tin Aye was formed under the announcement No. 5/2011 of the President Office issued on 30 March 2011, and a free and fair multiparty democracy general election could be successfully held. As for the 2020 multiparty democracy general election, the Union Election Commission, chaired by U Hla Thein was formed, under the announcement No. 4/2016 of the President Office issued on 30 March 2016. The election commissions got an average time span of 1,684 days (four years, seven months and nine days), and it is found that the time is enough for holding a free and fair election and the preparations for ensuring order at the election. The Union Election Commission Office has gained much experience from the previous two multiparty democracy general elections.
2. The sections from 398 to 403 of the Constitution clearly state the formation of the UEC, duties, impeachment and resolutions and functions. Under the provisions of the Section 399 it is clearly stated, “prescribing rules relating to elections or political parties in accord with the provisions of this Constitution, and procedures, directives, so forth, accord with the relevant laws.” The provisions state the issuance of rules, procedures and directives relating to elections in accord with the Constitution and the relevant laws. The enactment or amendment of laws and rules for the multiparty democracy general election were conducted continuously during the period from 2010 to 2019. As for the Union Election Commission, there is a legal point of view that the issuance of procedures, notifications, orders and directives must be based on the existing laws. Currently, persons who have the pre-voting rights are casting their advance votes for the 2020 multiparty democracy general election.
3. But according to official announcements of political parties and their statements to the media and the media news reports, there is widespread violation of the laws and procedures of the pre-voting process, and the information about the situation of the remote areas with poor transport is so hard to receive. Although the Union Election Commission had over four years of preparation time for the 2020 election, there is much weakness even in arranging envelopes for votes and ballot boxes. Although provisions in connection with the pre-votes have already been stipulated in election laws and rules of the respective Hluttaws, there are announcements that are above the existing laws and the statements issued under the pretext of protecting the of voting rights, but that goes beyond the existing laws. So, there appear public doubts. The Republic of the Union of Myanmar conducted a nation-wide census in 2014, and has an annual estimated census in the following years. An estimated number of voters can be received from those census results. However, it is found that the Union Election Commission faced difficulties in counting the number of eligible voters and made a lot of careless mistakes in issuing the voter lists. Additionally, disputes in connection with the pre-voting are surfacing every day at present. The Republic of the Union of Myanmar has been in the process of stage by stage transition to multiparty democracy since the time of the Tatmadaw Government, and could hold the election which is the lifeblood of the multiparty democracy in 2010 and 2015 freely and fairly. Especially, local and foreign observers and organizations unanimously acknowledged the freeness and fairness of the 2015 election. Based on the experiences of the 2010 and 2015 elections, the coming 2020 election should have greater freeness and fairness. But weakness and deficiencies which were never seen in the previous elections are appearing now. They can have adverse impacts on the image of the election.
4. Although the Union Election Commission is an independent body, it was formed by the President. As the commission is formed under Sub-section (A) of Section (398) of the Constitution, Sub-section (E) of Section (9) of the Union Government Law and Section (3) of the Union Election Commission Law, the Union Government is responsible for the commission and the commission reports to the former. Therefore, criticisms about the freeness and fairness of election is rather directed not at the commission but at the government.
5. As the government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is an administration that has taken state duties through the free and fair multi-party democracy election in 2015, it is expected that efforts will be made to hold the general election in 2020 in accordance with wishes of the people and international community. However, it is doubtful that the activities of the commission, which was formed by the government, are heading to that end. It is also found that negative outcomes were caused by the loose supervision and actions of the commission to enforce political parties to observe the rules and regulations for election campaigns that have started since 8 August 2020 and the health standard operation procedure (SOP) issued on 6 September by the Ministry of Health and Sports. The government has the complete responsibility for all the intentional and unintentional mistakes of the commission at its different levels. It is a political process that reflects the fulfilment of its responsibilities of a government.
6. COVID-19, the pandemic that started in March 2020 in Myanmar is still going on with the increased momentum. The pandemic has impacts on the socioeconomic lives of the people and the impacts are getting more and more severe. However, it is found that the public, with the understanding that the upcoming election is important for their socioeconomic lives, exerting efforts to cast their votes. The public expects that the upcoming election will bring about a positive change for them. It is an imperative that the upcoming election is free and fair in accordance with the will of the public.
7. Under the check and balance system between the Union Government and the UEC, the incumbent government is required to conduct systematic and correct supervision on the performance of duties by the commission to hold free and fair elections with the aim of fulfilling the wish of the people, who expect positive changes under the stress of the pandemic. In the international community, elections usually reflect the integrity and correctness of governments. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the UEC and the Union Government, which are mutually responsible, to make the upcoming election of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar a free and fair one.
Office of the Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services