Missing Voters in Myanmar polls

Myanmar’s leading election watchdog has alleged large scale discrepancies in the country’s electoral rolls, on the basis of which the polls to both houses of its parliament were held on Sunday.

People’s Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE) has said one to ten names of previous voters had been dropped in at least 30 percent of the polling centres across Myanmar.

PACE executive director Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint in a press conference said that they have come to this conclusion through ‘close observation’ during elections.

These voters who had been enrolled earlier had to return home without casting their ballot in Sunday’s election, that may return the ruling National League for Democracy to power with a huge mandate.

NLD leaders say they will win more seats in this election that they had five years ago.

But the country’s all – powerful military Tatmadaw had lambasted the government and held it responsible for the large scale discrepancies in ‘ election preparation’ , essentially pointing fingers at the failures for the Union Election Commission.

It had even threatened that the President may face impeachment for ‘failures of his government to conduct elections properly.’

Analysts say the military is worried with prospects of a sweeping mandate by the Aung Saan Suu Kyi’s ruling NLD.

With a sweeping mandate, the powerful military Tatmadaw is worried that NLD may seek critical constitutional amendments to curb the military’s powers.

NLD lawmakers are keen to end the military powers guaranteed by the 2008 Constitution that gives it 25 percent of seats in parliament and three security related ministries of Home, Defence and Border Affairs.

The Constitution also denies any Burmese to contest for high positions like President if they have foreign spouse — a provision aimed at keeping Suu Kyi out because her late husband was a British professor Michael Aris.

Suu Kyi devised and acquired the position of State Counsellor to enjoy de facto powers in the post-2015 government but as daughter of Myanmar’s war hero Marshal Aung Sang, she surely has her eyes on the Presidency.

During their election observation they found at about 30 percent of all polling stations across the country voters had to return home without voting as their names were missing in the electoral rolls.

At these polling stations at least one voter to a maximum of ten voters had lost their voting rights in each station.

They could not release the exact number of voters and polling stations as they faced limitations in their poll observation and could not calculate precisely, Sai Ye Kyaw Swar Myint added.

Subir Bhaumik is a Kolkata-based senior journalist. He can be reached at: sbhaum@gmail.com