Early results from rigged elections come in
Yangon (AsiaNews) – Early results have started to trickle in from yesterday’s Myanmar elections amid complaints of vote rigging and international criticism. Sources tell AsiaNews that some hungry voters have sold their vote. The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) appears to be leading the vote count. Most of its candidates are former members of the military who resigned in April to run for office. The National Unity Party (NUP) is the other party with good chances of winning a large number of seats; it was founded by the late Ne Win, Myanmar’s former strongman.
Final results are only expected in a few months time because of difficult communications and the large number of polling stations, almost 40,000, spread across the large country.
Criticism of the process includes allegations that in some areas ballot boxes were stuffed with marked votes before the election, that some voters were told to vote for the USDP or lose their job, and that opposition parties were not allowed to send their representatives at polling stations to monitor the vote. In addition, about 1.5 million voters from ethnic minorities out of 29 million eligible voters were denied the right to vote when their region was deemed “too dangerous” because of tensions with the military.
Where the vote did take place, witnesses reported few voters and no line-ups in front of polling stations. Conversely, soldiers were out in full force in the streets of the main cities to stop possible disorders.
Independent observers and foreign journalists were not allowed into the country to monitor the election. Phone and internet were cut or blocked.
Irrespective of the final outcome, under the new constitution 25 per cent of all the seats is reserved for the military.
The United States, Great Britain, France, the European Union and Australia have slammed the election for falling far short of international standards.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) boycotted the election, calling it a farce and an attempt to give the junta’s rule a veneer of acceptability. However, some NLD members did run under a separate name, National Democratic Force (NDF), hoping that the election might be a first, albeit tentative, step towards full democracy. Early results indicate that the new party might have won six seats in Yangon and five in Mandalay.
Sources have told AsiaNews that the junta also used widespread hunger in some areas to buy votes with food.
“People have been plagued by a number of disasters: storms in Rakhine, floods in Mandalay and insecurity everywhere. Thus, they have been at the mercy of political parties trying to get their vote. But will they get food after the election? Will their kids get an education? Or will they have to push them to emigrate to neighbouring countries to work as slaves?”
Ultimately though, “Our people are hungry for democracy, not only food,” said NLD member U Win Tin.