China and ASEAN Honor the Worst Vote Rigging in Burma

The most controversial election in ASEAN region has been ended. But, vote counting process is still going on. The poll results are still in the pipe line. nonetheless, the public eye returns to Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 15 of the past 21 years under arrest but is due to be freed as her latest house arrest period terminates on Saturday (Nov. 13).

Before election commenced there were claims, even from the pro-military National Unity Party (NUP) that rigged pre-voting was proceeding. And during Election Day, with turnout as low as 30 per cent in some parliamentary seats, allegations that ballot boxes were unsealed and stuffed with ballot papers.

The complaints range from lack of transparency in vote-counting to no privacy in many of the nation's nearly 40,000 polling booths. Parties also complained of threats from local authorities and forced early voting for the junta's proxy party. Most of the leaders from opposition parties say unanimously that this election is totally far away from free, fair and openness.

The United States, Britain, the European Union and Japan repeated calls recently to free the Nobel laureate and leader of National League for Democracy (NLD) which won a landslide in 1990 elections, but the junta ignored the result.

The Asian Network For Free Elections (ANFREL) releases a statement dated 9 November calling attention to an important point from November 7- 8 ballot counting procedures that require the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) and the Union Election Commission (UEC) to clarify immediately why the counting process was not made transparent to the public and the media beginning with the first advance voting period.

ANFREL points out that the UEC did not make the official dates of advance voting broadly known. It is true that there was an official advanced voting period on the 5th and 6th of November but, regrettably many advance votes were taken outside of that official time-frame. The counting of ballots, including ballots from advance voting and oversea voting, has raised many questions that demand an answer.

ANFREL also advises that in areas where advance vote totals disclose irregularities or manipulation, a re-vote should be scheduled.

ANFREL also suggests that the UEC and the SPDC must act to correct the flaws in the voting and counting process by making the counting process more transparent, properly dealing with fraudulent advance votes.

The 7-November election was held with Aung San Suu Kyi in detention and her party disbanded for refusing to become involved an election it said was undemocratic. She supports cohorts to boycott the flawed poll.

The vote is over now but the complaints come forward as a result of lack of transparency in vote-counting and no privacy in many of the nation's nearly 40,000 polling booths. Parties also complained of threats from local authorities and forced early voting for the junta's proxy party.

Two Burmese opposition parties - Democratic Party (Myanmar) and National Democratic Force (NDF) -are considering legal challenges to Sunday's elections amid signs that the pro-junta Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) has been swept into power. The USDP has planned to win around 80 percent of the parliament seats, analysts said earlier.

Khin Maung Swe, leader of the National Democratic Force (NDF), said that NDF took the lead at the opening but the USDP later came up with so-called advance votes that changed the results completely.

The distinguished Democratic Party (Myanmar) also conceded defeat.

"I admit defeat but it was not fair play. It was full of malpractice and fraud and we will try to expose them and tell the people,"its leader, Thu Wai, told Reuters News.

At least six parties have lodged complaints with the election commission, charging the USDP of fraud, an accusation that is doubtful to gain balance in a country where 2,200 political activists are behind bars without fair trials.

On 10 November 2010, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) denounces the current ASEAN Chair Vietnam's statement that welcomes the election in Burma as "a significant step forward in the implementation of the 7-point Roadmap for Democracy". FORUM-ASIA says that the credibility of Burma's election has long been lost even before it was held.

Not only Vietnam but also China has easily chosen to ignore the prevalent irregularities and intimidation that occurred prior to the election. And because the Burmese junta has resisted all suggestions of independent election monitoring, the announcements of the governments of these two countries are baseless and groundless, FORUM-ASIA criticized.

Moreover, ethnic nationalities in Burma that fight for self-determination were prevented from participating in the election. More than 3,000 villages in ethnic nationality areas have also been excluded from the electoral exercise because of continuing conflict, FORUM-ASIA also points out.

Then, FORUM-ASIA calls on the Chair of ASEAN to stand for the ASEAN Charter that specifies the adherence "to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms". It also underlines that the statement of the Chair of ASEAN does not reflect the aspiration of the peoples in ASEAN.

Finally, FORUM-ASIA strongly urges the ASEAN to reject the sham election until a free and fair election is held in Burma.

Meanwhile, the country's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is going to facilitate looking into charges of election frauds if she is released from house arrest on 13 November. Nyan Win, a spokesman for her disbanded National League for Democracy party, said on 10 November the NLD has established a committee to investigate charges of fraud in last Sunday's election, the country's first in two decades.

So far, the military junta-backed UEC did not release official broadcast on the ballot results. In countless constituencies, candidates were distressed caused by the results that changed over and over again.
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