Carter Center Issues Second Statement on Myanmar’s Preelection Environment
YANGON (Oct. 30, 2020) — In a second preelection statement released today, The Carter Center noted that while COVID-19 related restrictions continue to impact the activities of the election administration, political parties, candidates, and observers, the election process remains broadly on course for voting to take place on Nov. 8.
The update of the voter roll is complete, and out-of-country voting has concluded, advance voting is underway, and the Union Election Commission is carrying out voter education and training for poll workers despite the major operational challenges posed by the pandemic.
However, the postponement and cancellation of elections in many constituencies on security grounds has not been a transparent process. This has caused a number of political parties to question the motivation for some of the decisions taken. Estimates are that some 1.4 million voters will be disenfranchised, including a majority of voters in Rakhine State.
The number of candidates has decreased significantly, partly because additional individual candidacies have been revoked but largely because of the dissolution of the Union Democratic Party. Although women’s participation as candidates has increased since 2010, the percentage remains low at 16%.
In addition, the collection and publication of candidates' religious affiliation and ethnic identity has been contentious, raising questions about compliance with national right-to-privacy laws and applicable international principles.
Candidates and parties are adapting to COVID-19 restrictions in their election campaigns, with social media playing a prominent role for many parties. The campaign period has been mostly peaceful thus far, although some interparty clashes and security incidents have taken place. Online partisan attacks frequently include hate speech against ethnic and religious minorities.
The Carter Center is preparing to deploy teams of observers to most states and regions of the country to observe the end of the campaign period and voting, counting, and tabulation of results. It plans to issue a preliminary statement of findings and conclusions shortly after election day.
The Center is observing the elections in Myanmar in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and will assess the electoral process based on Myanmar’s national legislation and its international and regional obligations for democratic elections.
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A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.