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Carter Center Releases Latest Statement on Myanmar's Pre-Election Activities

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Contact: In Atlanta, Soyia Ellison,
In Yangon, Frederick Rawksi,

ATLANTA - The Carter Center today released its latest statement on Myanmar's pre-election activities, making recommendations to help ensure a democratic process in the days to come.

The Carter Center's team of core staff and long-term observers report that while parties and candidates have generally been able to conduct their activities without obstruction, political space remains uneven. There have been instances of intimidation and restrictions in some areas with an armed group or military presence, and reports of several physical attacks against party members. Campaign rules for the most part have been enforced reasonably and without causing substantial problems for parties and candidates. Party representatives and community members continue to voice concerns about the potential for nationalist and religious rhetoric to exacerbate communal tensions. The arrests of two civil society activists for posting comments about the military on social media contribute to concerns about the openness of political space.

The voter list, the display of which ended on Sept. 27 in most parts of the country, remains a subject of public criticism, though many of the specific allegations about errors appear to be unsubstantiated. The Union Election Commission has acknowledged technical errors and adjustments, and problems with out-of-country voter lists have been widely reported in the press. The impact of voter list issues remains to be seen.

The announcement of cancellations of elections in a larger-than-expected number of villages has raised concerns about disenfranchisement, and the majority of the population in northern Rakhine state remains excluded from participation in the election.

Carter Center teams continue to enjoy nearly unrestricted freedom of movement and access, but with a noticeable increase in surveillance in some areas. The Carter Center has not been given permission to observe the casting of ballots in out-of-constituency advance voting.

The statement offers several recommendations for the government and the UEC:

For the Government

  • The two activists arrested for posting satirical material online should be released. Measures should be taken to ensure that political party activists, candidates, and the media are not subject to harassment.
  • The police and other security services should be instructed to implement election security plans in a manner that is non-discriminatory and that does not interfere with the activities of candidates, media, or observers.

For the Union Election Commission

  • The UEC should act on complaints submitted by political parties and candidates, including in cases alleging the misuse of religion during the campaign, and provide timely responses. The UEC should work with law enforcement authorities to ensure election violations are promptly investigated.
  • Voter identification requirements should be broadly publicized, including the fact that voter slips are not mandatory for voting.
  • There should be greater transparency about voter list technical problems and measures that have been implemented to address them. The criteria used to determine the areas where elections cannot be held should be made public.
  • Polling station officials should be instructed to exercise their discretion to limit access to polling stations in a way that does not obstruct the observation of voting and counting by domestic observers in a manner consistent with their methodology.
  • In the interest of transparency and the integrity of the process, The Carter Center reiterates its previous recommendations that advance voting, including out-of-constituency advance voting by military and other security forces, be made fully observable for international and domestic observers and party agents.

Read the full report (PDF) English and in Burmese.


The Carter Center
"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."

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.

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