ANFREL Deploys Short-Term Observers in Myanmar Hoping to See a Transparent and Fair Final Week before Polling
As part of its nationwide Election Observation Mission in the country, the Asian Network for Free Elections(ANFREL) is deploying 27 Short Term Observers(STOs) on November 3rd to observe the final week of the pre-election period and the country’s November 08 Election Day. The STOs will join ANFREL’s 20 Long Term Observers that have been observing since October 12th. This new deployment is a continuation of ANFREL’s long-time commitment to strengthening democracy in Myanmar by supporting the integrity of its electoral process.
The ANFREL Election Observation Mission’s (EOM) specific objective is to strengthen Myanmar’s democratic processes by enhancing the integrity and transparency of the electoral process and the accountability of electoral stakeholders. To support these goals, ANFREL’s observers have been recruited from the independent civil society groups that make up its network and from other organizations in Asia, the USA, and Europe. ANFREL’s observation methodology is tailored to comply with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation adopted by international organizations including the United Nation Electoral Assistance Division (UNEAD). ANFREL is also guided by our shared principles that inspired the Bangkok Declaration on Free and Fair Elections and the creation of the Indicators on Free and Fair elections endorsed at the Asian Stakeholder Electoral Forum (AESF) held in Dili, Timor-Leste in March 2015.
On the subject of the coming elections, ANFREL Chairman Mr. Damaso Magbual stated that, “During this crucial last week, we hope that ANFREL’s observers find an atmosphere that is peaceful and free with inclusive elections that provide fair opportunities to all those competing.” Sincere efforts by all political actors to adhere to both the letter and spirit of the Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates that the parties have endorsed would be a significant move towards this shared goal.
ANFREL hopes that recent violence, threats, and intimidation are isolated incidents that do not repeat themselves in these last few days before the election. Any instances of violence or threat of violence have no place in an election and such actions harm the campaign process and, in an election context, are serious violations of the freedoms of movement, association and expression. Relevant security agencies should be vigilant in pursuing those perpetrating or threatening violence and all political and religious leaders can and should through their speeches work to create a peaceful election environment by using responsible, inclusive language which lessens any political, ethnic, or religious tensions that harm the election.
The fairness of the campaign period is also impacted by recent moves stifling routine political speech and creating a chilling effect on political campaigns and speech. ANFREL hopes that the Media, Civil Society Members, and those citizens expressing their thoughts online are able to do so freely and without fear of arrest or harassment. The media and election observers play a particularly important part in ensuring a level-playing field and providing transparency to the election process. It is important that they have access to cover and observe electoral events and the freedom to report on what they find.
Finally, ANFREL hopes that advance voting and election day voting, counting and tabulation is carried out in a fair and transparent manner. Defending advance voting against the type of fraud alleged in 2010 will be an important part of this process. If done, it will mark a significant improvement in the quality of this election.
On election day, the UEC’s efforts to be inclusive while preventing fraud and abuse of the voter list will also be important. ANFREL hopes that election officials can resolve any problems of voter registration in a way that reduces disenfranchisement, increases the elections’ credibility, and protects the sanctity of each and every ballot. Doing so will be vital for the overall integrity of the election. Finally, ANFREL’s Short Term Observers deploying today look forward to continuing the warm relations ANFREL maintains with the people of Myanmar who are working to deliver the type of free and fair election that the people of Myanmar so richly deserve.
Bidhayak Das (EOM Coordinator), Bidhayakd@anfrel.org | Cell-phone: +95-9254377919
Khin Nyein San: (Program officer), firstname.lastname@example.org | cell-phone: +95-9972320701