Myanmar’s election commission has scrapped by-elections scheduled for November to enable political parties to concentrate on the crucial 2015 general elections — a move welcomed by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). Tin Aye, chairman of the Union Election Commission, told representatives from more than 30 political parties at a meeting in Yangon on Sunday that it was cancelling the by-elections to fill 35 vacant seats, citing logistical and other reasons. He said that the move would not only allow political parties to concentrate on the general elections next year but also avoid a clash of events as Myanmar, which is currently chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is scheduled to host a high-profile regional meeting around the same time.
The East Asia Summit to be held in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw in November is expected to be attended by U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and newly elected Indian leader Narendra Modi, among other leaders.
Tin Aye said if they are held, the by-elections, which would cost more than kyat 2 billion (roughly U.S. $2 million) to organize, would be of little significance because the general elections would be held just about a year later.
Another reason cited for the cancellation was a burdensome election law that requires political parties to put forth at least three candidates in the by-election or de-registration.