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Myanmar Struggles to Finalize Voter Lists for Sunday Polls

  • May Kha
  • Theingi Lynn

Officers of Union Election Commission transfer ballots that were cast in advance in foreign countries by Myanmar citizens as representatives of various political parties watch on in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015.

Officers of Union Election Commission transfer ballots that were cast in advance in foreign countries by Myanmar citizens as representatives of various political parties watch on in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015.

Election officials in Myanmar are still struggling to finalize the nationwide voter list as the nation heads to the polls on Sunday.

The Union Election Commission (UEC) had initially announced it intended to release the final list on November 2. But the head of the Yangon Region Election Commission, Ko Ko, told VOA Burmese Tuesday the plan was delayed due to technical difficulties.

He said hundreds of thousands of eligible voters have been added for the nation's largest city. He added that the final list for the Yangon Region is expected to be posted later this week.

“The total number in the previous list was 4,180,705 and the final voter list now tallies some 4,960,000, meaning that [the number of] eligible voters in the Yangon Region increased by about 800,000,” he said.

Myanmar’s election commission faces intense criticism as large numbers of people are reported to be missing on two previous voter lists.

In the central Myanmar city Mandalay, where the voter lists were partially posted, 26,000 voters were dropped from the list after correcting overlapping and inaccurate data.

Soe Win, The chairman of the Sagaing Region Election Commission, told VOA Tin Oo, the chairman of the Sagaing Region Election Commission, told VOA Burmese the number of eligible voters in the region where severe floods hit in recent months has increased slightly to 3,780,000.

But he said the area is ready for the Sunday balloting.

“We’ve prepared ballots at local schools from the beginning and since we’re using assembly halls and classes as ballots, we don’t have many problems," he said.

The main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, which has been tracking voter lists, told VOA Burmese that the final list is still incomplete and even harder to trace the issue because the commission has projected voter lists three times in three different methods.

An estimated 32 million people are eligible to vote but tens of thousands of people are expected to miss their chance in a milestone election.

Myanmar President Thein Sein has again pledged to hold free and fair elections Sunday, with the result reflecting “people's genuine desire.”

In his monthly speech on Tuesday, the president said his government has invested full efforts to hold the free and fair election in a peaceful manner.

He also called on political parties and individuals to honor and accept the election result as a show of respect to the desire of the people, urging all political leaders to coordinate and jointly explore the solution for emergence of a political event that will be accepted by all political groups in the post-election period.

NLD spokesman Win Htein, however, accused the president of working for the ruling party by taking advantage of his office. He also added that the NLD has filed a complaint to the election commission.

"We have a lot of evidence and even yesterday, the NLD reported to the Union Election Commission that Thein Sein is acting as the president and head of [the ruling] party at the same time. The matter now depends on the commission, whether they will take action against, but we’ve done our job to expose illegitimate acts," he said.

The general election will be the first since a nominally civilian government was installed in 2011. But with the military still firmly in control of the process, there is widespread speculation about whether the election will be free and fair.

Theingi Htike contributed from Washington. This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Burmese service.

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