The chief of Burma’s Election Commission (EC) said in a press conference on Friday that upcoming parliamentary by-election will be free and fair and the country’s existing political parties can now start their election campaigns. During the by-election, expected to be held in March, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development party (USDP), opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and Burma’s other political parties will compete for 48 vacant parliamentary seats.
Ex-army general Tin Aye, the EC chairman, vowed during the press conference in Naypyidaw on Friday that the by-election will be held in a free and fair manner and that the EC will be independent and not submit to any outside influence. If his prediction comes to fruition, it would stand in contrast to the 2010 parliamentary elections, Burma’s first in 20 years, which the NLD boycotted and observers condemned as widely fraudulent.
During the 2010 election campaign, political parties had to seek advance approval from the EC prior to canvassing for votes and faced various other forms of campaign restrictions. Tin Aye said that in the by-elections, parties will not face a repeat of such conditions and they all can launch their campaigns without reporting to the election commission in advance.
“Only if you can organize the people, then (the parties) can join the Parliament and serve the people,” he said, adding that the commission will act in strict accordance with the Constitution.
He also said that the parties will be notified of the election date three months in advance.