International observers reject Myanmar military’s election fraud allegations
Bangkok Desk, May 17 (EFE).- International observers on Monday rejected allegations of electoral fraud in Myanmar during the November elections, which the military has used as justification for its coup in early February.
“There is no concrete or solid evidence that there was massive fraud that undermined the elections as claimed by the Myanmar military. It is ANFREL’s informed opinion that the results of the 2020 general elections were, by and large, representative of the will of the people of Myanmar,” said observer Chung Lun during a presentation via videoconference of the final report on the Myanmar elections by members of the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL).
The National League for Democracy (NLD) party, led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, swept the polls but the military seized power on Feb. 1, preventing elected representatives from swearing in and arresting a part of the democratic government.
The military junta, headed by General Min Aung Hlaing, declared the results of the elections invalid due to what it alleged was 10.5 million cases of voter fraud, and appointed a new election commission, which since the coup has published documents on the alleged rigging.
One of the arguments used by the military is that the previous election commission did not review the almost 200 complaints presented by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), linked to the army.
According to Amael Vier, an expert at ANFREL, an organization based in Bangkok, the excessive number of complaints filed “were most likely an organized attempt to overload election dispute resolution mechanisms” and “the coup occurred before complaints had a chance to be addressed.”
“We don’t believe that the USDP engaged in the resolution process in good faith,” Vier concluded, stressing that the military’s arguments are based on “incomplete and unverifiable data.”
ANFREL, which sent 24 observers to the election, concludes in its final report that the polls were “peaceful and orderly across the country, with no major incidents reported.”
The non-profit also said that the elections were affected by restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which led campaigns to be cut short, rallies to be banned, and polling to be suspended in several areas, including Rakhine state, where an internet shutdown was put in force.
At least 790 people have been killed as a result of a brutal crackdown by security forces against peaceful anti-coup protests while more than 5,000 people have been detained by the military, according to figures from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.
Despite violence and intimidation by the authorities, thousands of people continue to challenge the power of the military junta throughout the country through a popular civil disobedience movement, although some protesters have formed militias or joined armed ethnic groups in the country to put up armed resistance to the military.
The military is also engaged in clashes in border areas with various ethnic militias, who have joined the opposition against the military junta. EFE