Having raised concerns that there was no level playing field for political parties in the period leading up to the November 7 elections in Burma, The Asian Network for Free Elections (AMFREL) yesterday said, "we conclude unfortunately that we were correct to hold this concern."
AMFREL said that at every stage of the electoral process since the very beginning, the USDP enjoyed unfair advantages in terms of resources and membership - as a junta-created mass social organization that was recently transformed to a political party. It said that the Union Election Commission (UEC), a body that is supposed to oversee the electoral process in an impartial manner, was also complicit by failing to step in to provide a level playing field for all political parties.
A regional network made up of civil society organizations from 15 Asian countries, ANFREL has observed elections in nearly all of the countries in Asia since 1997.
In its report the regional election watchdog made particular note of irregularities with regards to advance voting. "Advance votes obtained through fraud or coerced voting was a major problem," said ANFREl, concluding that the practice is part of 'a systematic operation to give the USDP an insurmountable lead before Election Day.'
Electoral fraud and practice of vote fixing through advance voting have been reported throughout Burma during the elections last Sunday. In Chin State, the USDP has enjoyed victory in Mindat, Tedim and Kanpalet, mostly through the advance votes.
According to the Chin Human Rights Organization, a local rights watchdog, the results in Tedim Township of northern Chin State, for example, were swung in favor of the USDP, although ethnic Chin political parties had won the majority of the votes cast on November 7.
ANFREL is set to release a full report on Burma's elections at a later date.