Burma passes law for Election Commission

(Mizzima) – Mizzima has obtained an advanced copy of Burma’s Election Commission Law set to be released tomorrow.

The law establishes a national election commission that will supervise this year’s national election and ominously enables the commission the right to veto candidates. The regime’s new law declares that the election commission that supervised the 1990 election is now abolished.

The election law states that the commission will consist of at least five members including the commission chairman. All members must be over fifty years of age and be approved by the State Peace and Development Council (the name to which Than Shwe’s military regime calls itself).

According to the law the commission members cannot be paid staff of any other organization or members of a political party. According to the election law the duties of the commission include the following: to hold parliamentary elections, to supervise parliamentary elections, form regional election commissions, approve constituencies, create national voters list, to approve candidates and form an oversight committee to solve disputes between parties regarding the election. The law also gives the commission the power to determine if parties are abiding by the election rules.

The election commission also has the power to determine if the election should be held in those places in Burma which are affected by “natural catastrophe or security reasons”. Mizzima has been informed by sources inside Burma that the regime may not conduct polling in areas controlled by armed ethnic organizations that have signed cease fire agreements with the regime but failed to transform their forces into members of the national Border Guard Force. Those organizations that have so far refused to become part of the border guard force include the Kachin Independence Organization (KIA) and the United Wa State Army, cited by many as militarily the strongest of Burma’s numerous armies.   

The election law also stipulates that there will be a separate election commission for the new national capital district of Naypyidaw. The new capital is considered separate from Burma’s existing 14 States and Divisions. 

The Burmese regime is going ahead with plans to hold the election based on the 2008 constitution which has been widely criticized by many both in Burma and abroad. The constitution guarantees the military a permanent role in the running of the country’s daily affairs. 

The international community has frequently called on the Burmese military regime to hold “free, fair and inclusive” elections and release the more than 2100 political prisoners that remain behind bars.


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