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After a day of uncertainty, Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) announced on Tuesday night that the country’s general election will go ahead as scheduled on 8 November.
Earlier in the day, the UEC had called in representatives of the major political parties to its headquarters in Naypyidaw where commission chairman Tin Aye floated a proposal to postpone polling, saying that monsoonal floods and landslides in July had left much of the country cut off, and people in need of rehabilitation efforts.
Security was also cited as a possible reason for delaying polls after it was announced that voting could not proceed in hundreds of hamlets in eastern Burma due to ongoing armed conflict.
“The UEC reviewed the opinions put forth by a number of political parties and has decided to go ahead with the election on 8 November. There will be no delay,” the commission said in a statement.
Under a front page banner blasting the headline: “No election delay”, state-run Global New Light of Myanmar this morning said that the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party had “supported the idea of postponing the election – for an unspecified period – on the grounds that natural disasters have prevented candidates from campaigning in certain areas, in particular Shan and Kachin states.”
It noted that the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), which is led by Aung San Suu Kyi, had disagreed, saying that the impact of the flooding was not an insurmountable obstacle to holding an election.
Floods hit 12 of the country’s 14 states and regions in July through to September, killing 132 people and affecting an estimated 1.6 million – the equivalent of almost half a million families, the UEC said.
Apart from the USDP, two smaller parties, the National Development Party, led by a former presidential adviser, Nay Zin Latt, and the Myanmar Farmers’ Development Party, also spoke in favour of postponing the vote.
The NLD was the only party to oppose the move, while the remaining three parties at the UEC meeting – the Arakan National Party, National Unity Party and National Democratic Force – abstained from voting.
Speaking to DVB after yesterday’s pivotal meeting in the Burmese capital, NLD central executive committee member Win Htein said he had objected to the proposal to postpone the election, “stressing that the government went ahead with the national referendum in 2008 despite a catastrophic cyclone disaster that left Irrawaddy and Rangoon divisions in shambles.
“Therefore, I said, the reason provided by [U Tin Aye] was insufficient.”
Read more about Burma’s 2015 election
Read more about the deadly floods and landslides which ravaged the country