Myanmar election commission rejects military’s fraud claims

NAYPYITAW, MYANMAR (AP) — Myanmar’s election commission rejected allegations by the military that fraud played a significant role in determining the outcome of November’s elections, which delivered a landslide victory to Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party.

The decision, announced on Thursday, came amid heightened tensions after the military, which had ruled Myanmar for five decades until 2015, refused to rule out the possibility of a coup if their complaints were ignored.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party captured 396 out of 476 seats in the November 8 polls, allowing them to form the government for another five years. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won only 33 seats.

The military has been calling on the government and the Union Election Commission to review the results. It said it found 8.6 million irregularities in voter lists in 314 townships that could have let voters cast multiple ballots or commit other “voting malpractice”, but the election commission said there was no evidence to support the claims.

On Tuesday, a military spokesperson declined to rule out a coup, saying the military would continue to file complaints about alleged irregularities in line with laws and the constitution.

Myanmar’s Military Chief Min Aung Hlaing on Wednesday told senior officers in a speech the constitution could be revoked if the laws are not being properly enforced.

“The constitution is the mother law for all laws. So we need to abide by the constitution. If one does not follow the law, such law must be revoked. If it is the constitution, it is necessary to revoke the constitution,” he said.

Police stand guard behind a road barricade, part of security preparations ahead of next week’s opening of Myanmar’s Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. PHOTO: AP

The party of Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace prize laureate, won the previous elections in 2015 also in a landslide. But her ability to run the country has been hamstrung by a clause in the 2008 army-drafted constitution giving the military 25 per cent of the seats in Parliament that allows it to block constitutional reforms.

Political analyst in Yangon and former political prisoner Khin Zaw Win suggested the military was signalling its intention to intervene in the country’s politics.

“The military’s course of action is much clearer now. As illogical as it sounds, Military Chief Min Aung Hlaing’s argument is meant to soften the blow of abrogating the 2008 constitution,” he said.

“By doing so, he aims to do away with the election results and the impending National League for Democracy (NLD) government. At the same time he wants to win public support for scrapping the unpopular constitution,” he added.

The United Nations (UN) released a statement on Thursday saying the secretary-general is following with great concern recent developments in Myanmar.

“He urges actors to desist from any form of incitement or provocation, to demonstrate leadership, and to adhere to democratic norms and respect the outcome of the 8 November general election. All electoral disputes should be resolved through established legal mechanisms,” UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Diplomatic missions in Myanmar also issued a joint statement yesterday expressing support for the democratic process.

“We urge the military, and other parties in the country, to adhere to democratic norms, and we oppose any attempt to alter the outcome of the elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition,” said the statement issued by the European Union, the United States, Australia and others.

Myanmar’s Parliament will convene on Monday with military representatives registered to attend the session.