Ethnic Political Parties Demand Review of Burma’s 2020 Election Plan

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

The United Nationalities Alliance (UNA), a coalition of ethnic political parties, has demanded that Burma’s Union Election Commission (UEC) poll the country’s political parties about whether to postpone the 2020 election because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

United Nationalities Alliance (UNA) and its members released a joint statement on June 1 outlining the demand.

“If the 2020 election will be held on schedule or whether the election will be postponed, the UEC needs to discuss it with representatives of political parties,” UNA secretariat member and Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) secretary Myo Kyaw told NMG. “We want the UEC to inform us early about it,” he added.

“If the election will be held immediately when the ruling party is ready for it, then other political parties will feel uneasy,” Soe Naing Than, a UNA executive committee member and a central committee member of the Kayan New Land Party (KNLP), told NMG. “If they want to postpone the election, they need to negotiate with other political parties.”

In the UNA’s joint statement, they said that if the 2020 election is held, the UEC will need to ensure it is free, fair, accountable, and equal under the law throughout the whole country. And if it is postponed, the UEC must get agreement from all participating political parties.

The UNA and its members said that if the election takes place, the UEC must hold voting nationwide at the same time including in conflict-affected regions.

“To hold the election in conflict-affected regions, the government, army and respective EAOs must negotiate for it,” Myo Kyaw said, referring to ethnic armed organizations “The UEC, civil society organizations and the people must work together and negotiate for the coming election. If a candidate is elected, the candidate will work for their constituency… so military space will [grow] narrow and the civilian administration will be stronger. Therefore, we are urging the UEC to hold the election in all constituencies in the country.”

The UNA also demanded that all armed forces declare a ceasefire or retreat from the conflict area in order for the election to be free and fair.

In the joint statement, the UNA wrote that a COVID-19 prevention program must be prepared nationwide for voters if election is held on schedule. The UEC must prepare for IDPs and migrant worker returnee to be able to vote, and prepare easy voting procedures for migrant workers abroad to vote.

The UNA was formed of winning parties in the 1990 election and has 15 members. They include the ALD, the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, Zomi Congress for Democracy, Mon National Party, Kachin National Congress, Kayan National Party, Shan State Kokang Democratic Party, Karen National Party, Arakan Patriotic Party, Mro National Democracy Party, Danu Nationalities Democracy Party, Khumi (Khami) National Party, Chin League for Democracy Party, Chin Progressive Party, and the Shanni (Tailai) and Northern Shan Ethnics Solidarity Party.