COVID-19 in Myanmar douses election fever
Min Wathan The Myanmar Times Wed, May 20, 2020
A woman casts her ballot in the 2015 election in this file image. Photo: Zarni Phyo/The Myanmar Times
NAY PYI TAW – Myanmar’s two major political parties have yet to select candidates for this year’s general elections, as they have been busy battling COVID-19, their spokespersons said.
The ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) and the main opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) have yet to focus on the election campaign.
“We haven’t even started selecting candidates,” said Monywa Aung Shin, information officer of the NLD. “We cannot say when we will start. Our headquarters remains closed.”
The Union Election Commission (UEC) has confirmed that the election will be held this year despite COVID-19.
The past two general elections were both held in November, but the poll body has not yet announced the date of this year’s elections.
“The process of selecting candidates will be carried out as before,” said U Thein Tun Oo, spokesperson of the USDP. “But we cannot yet do anything, as our offices are closed to avoid public gatherings during the pandemic. I think the election will be held in November.”
There are 97 registered political parties in Myanmar, but most of them have not yet started preparing for the polls.
U Sai Kyaw Nyunt, joint first secretary of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, said the party cannot hold meetings due to the COVID 19 restrictions on mass gatherings.
He said, “This should be the time to start preparations, for party organising, and to meet people.” He added that there are hundreds of party members to meet with in every city.
Tin Maung Oo, one of the founders of the Union Betterment Party, also said his party had not yet started preparing for the polls. “We can only start our preparations after COVID-19 is brought under control and the restrictions are lifted on mass gatherings.”
More than 37 million people are eligible to vote in this year’s elections, the UEC said.
In 2010, the UEC announced the date two months and 24 days before the election. In 2015, it announced the date four months ahead of the election. – Translated