USDP candidate U Aung Myo Naing, who on November 8 lost the race for the Yangon Region Hluttaw seat of Hlegu-1, shows what he said is photographic evidence of the NLD committing voter fraud at a USDP press conference in Yangon on November 11. (Nyein Su Wai Kyaw Soe | Frontier)

Commission shuts down USDP call for fresh election

Election commission says the vote was completed successfully and the “will of the majority” should be respected, after USDP accuses NLD of voter fraud and vote buying.

By NAW BETTY HAN and HEIN THAR

The Union Election Commission has rejected calls from the Union Solidarity and Development Party to hold another election, telling journalists the election was held “successfully” and most parties were “satisfied” with the outcome.

The USDP suffered a number of embarrassing losses on November 8 to the National League for Democracy, which is on track for a crushing victory.

At a press conference in Yangon this afternoon USDP officials called for the election to be held again in coordination with the Tatmadaw – a suggestion the commission immediately rejected at its own press conference shortly afterward.

Commission spokesperson U Myint Naing said that if a party had complaints about the conduct or outcome of the election then they could file complaints to the UEC.

“If any parties are not satisfied with election process and not happy with the UEC, they can complain with evidence within 45 days of the results being announced,” he said. “I saw that [most parties] are satisfied with the election results based on their statements after the election.”

He said final results would be released within seven days.

Asked about the USDP instructing its candidates not to sign Form 19 with township election sub-commissions to confirm the result of their election race, Myint Naing said it would not affect the process of declaring victorious candidates.

“If you don’t sign Form 19, you have to take responsibility for your actions, but it doesn’t affect the work of the UEC. We will proceed according to the rules – the election law clearly states that we can continue,” he said.

Myint Naing suggested that the high turnout on November 8, which the UEC estimated at more than 70 percent, undermined the validity of complaints from losing candidates.

“It is a democratic norm to prioritise the will of the majority over the accusations of the minority,” he said.

‘Like scoring a goal by tying up the goalkeeper’

Earlier in the day, USDP officials cited 12 reasons the election was unfair and demanded the vote be re-run.

They accused the NLD of fraud during the advance voting process and of buying votes. They also alleged the commission had used “hardcore” NLD fans as volunteers, and that the UEC had used “poor quality” voting papers and envelopes.

“The plastic box used to maintain [ballots] are not even as good as a trash bin,” the party said in a statement.

“It’s like scoring a goal by tying up the goalkeeper,” U Kyaw Soe, secretary of the party’s Yangon Region branch, said at the press conference.

“The Tatmadaw is the strongest institution and the UEC is an independent institution. Only if they combine can we have a free, fair and safe election,” Kyaw Soe said, prompting loud clapping from USDP supporters watching the press conference.

Four USDP candidates from different townships showed what they claimed was photo and video evidence that the NLD carried out voter fraud in the process of advance voting. One allegation was that vehicles collecting the votes were decked out in NLD flags and logos.

The USDP candidate for the Yangon Region Hluttaw seat of Hlegu-1, U Aung Myo Naing, brought some constituents to the press conference who he said would confirm voter fraud had taken place.

The villagers included a girl aged 15 years who claimed that she was pressured to vote by NLD members in Hlegu Township in northern Yangon Region. “I refused but they told me I’m on the voter list and forced me to vote,” she said, holding up her little finger covered in indelible ink.

USDP candidate Aung Myo Naing, left, speaks at a press conference on November 11 beside villagers from Hlegu Township who say they were pressured or paid to vote for the NLD. (Nyein Su Wai Kyaw Soe | Frontier)

Another villager claimed that he had received K40,000 from an NLD member to vote for the party.

The villagers seemed familiar with USDP members, entering to warm greetings and leaving in cars arranged by the party.

When journalists had the chance to ask questions, the mood became less friendly. Kyaw Soe and another party representative, Daw Aye Min Moe, declined to answer many questions, saying they were decisions for the party’s Nay Pyi Taw headquarters.

When Frontier asked whether the USDP’s candidates would boycott the hluttaw, Aye Min Moe said they would need to “discuss it with the candidates”.

Asked for comment, NLD spokesperson Dr Myo Nyunt said that if anyone had evidence that NLD members had committed voter fraud then they should call the police or UEC immediately.

The Myanmar Teachers’ Federation posted on Facebook after the press conference that it was preparing a response to the USDP allegations, which it said had “defamed the dignity of teachers” who worked as polling station staff for the election.

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