#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 6°C Wednesday 2 December 2020
Advertisement

US alleges fraud as military junta wins Burmese elections

Barack Obama says yesterday’s ballots were “anything but free and fair” as victory looms for military-backed parties.

Journalists and foreign diplomatics on a poll monitoring tour watch as a polling official begins to count votes cast in yesterday's Burmese general election, the first since 1990.
Journalists and foreign diplomatics on a poll monitoring tour watch as a polling official begins to count votes cast in yesterday's Burmese general election, the first since 1990.

US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has denounced yesterday’s rare general election in Burma as being “far from free and fair”, alleging widespread ballot-tampering and electoral fraud as military-backed parties seemed set to coast to victory.

The country held its first election in 20 years yesterday, in an orchestrated ploy to replace the direct rule of the nation’s military junta with parties supportive of the incumbent regime.

Press in nearby countries reported that the country’s internet connections were repeatedly knocked out of service, with armed riot police standing guard at a majority of ballot boxes. Turnout has been described as ‘patchy’.

The elections, the Telegraph reports, were an effort to reduce the country’s isolation in the Asian community, and a ploy to give the military a veil of legitimacy as an elected authority; the last such elections took place 20 years ago, in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won 80% of seats.

That election was ignored by the junta, however, which continued with its own rule – leaving Suu Kyi in house arrest for almost all of the time since. It is now understood that Suu Kyi will be released on a more long-term basis, in further attempts by the nation to win the approval of its neighbours.

Violence

Three civilians have been killed in violence following yesterday’s ballots in the eastern town of Myawaddy, near the Thai border, as tensions between the governmental troops and anti-government rebels turned bloody. Almost 12,000 people are understood to have fled across the border for fear of similar attacks.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

The overall result of the election, unless anti-military parties were to win an extraordinary share of the seats, are largely moot one way or another, with the Commander-in-Chief of the defence forces empowered to fill a quarter of the seats in both the People’s Assembly (110 of 440) and the House of Nationalities (56 of 224).

Other ‘complex rules’, according to Reuters, have also been introduced that make the elections almost entirely procedural, with pro-democracy parties boycotting the elections in protest at the impossibility of any potential victory for their leaders.

The US, Britain, Japan and the European Union have all condemned the elections, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – currently in Australia – saying the elections were “heartbreaking, because the people of Burma deserve so much better.”

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

Read next:

COMMENTS