Aung San Suu Kyi’s party wins majority in controversial Myanmar election

Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party, National League for Democracy (NLD), has so far won 346 seats, surpassing the 322 required for victory. The election has been surrounded by controversy over disenfranchisement of ethnic minorities and accusations of fraud by the opposition.

The 2020 election is only the second held following the end of 49 years of military rule in 2011. The military still holds significant power in the country, reserving a quarter of seats in parliament and control of the ministries of border affairs, defence, and home affairs, as outlined in the controversial 2008 constitution written under military rule. The Military also supports the main opposition to the NLD, the Union Solidarity Party (USDP).

The USDP has announced they do not recognise the election results, alleging early voting showed “errors of neglect” in voter lists and “widespread violation of laws and procedures”. The USDP has called on the country’s Union Election Commission (UEC) to step down or rerun the election, despite having yet to provide evidence of fraud. 

Observers of the election have supported the election as fair, with the UEC announcing the election was done “fairly and freely” and confirmed there would “not be an election re-run”. The results have been acknowledged internationally including by Japan, India, and Singapore congratulating Ms Suu Kyi on her victory.

The election has been criticised by human rights groups following the mass disenfranchisement of Muslim and Buddhist Ethnic minorities and mass regional cancellation of voting, including in Shan and Kachin. The Rohingya Muslims were stripped of voting rights ahead of the 2015 election. In October, the UEC cancelled voting in large areas of the Rakhine state where the military and the Arakan Army are currently fighting, killing dozens and displacing tens of thousands of the regions Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist Rakhine ethnic minorities.

 The UEC has claimed the regions were “not in a position to hold a free and fair election”. Many critics have suggested the UEC deliberately excluded these areas from voting as it was highly likely they would elect members of parties that are hostile to the government. Six Rohingya Muslims have also been prevented from running in the election.

 In September, the UN human rights investigator to Myanmar said the election could not be fair due to the disenfranchisement of ethnic minorities. In total, nearly two million have been excluded from the thirty-seven million registered voters.


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Aislinn Wright

March 2021
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