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Radio Free Asia

Myanmar Junta on Path of 'Total Self-Destruction' After Annulment of 2020 Election: Observers

2021-07-27 -- Myanmar's junta has chosen a path of "total self-destruction" by disregarding the will of the people in a bid to legitimize its power grab, an official with the deposed National League for Democracy (NLD) said Tuesday, in response to an announcement annulling the country's 2020 election results.

Late on Monday, the military-appointed Union Election Commission (UEC) said it had thrown out the tally from Myanmar's Nov. 8 poll, which was won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party, claiming that more than 11.3 million ballots—representing nearly one-third of the country's registered voters—had been discounted due to fraud and other irregularities.

Among alleged irregularities, the commission said the NLD government had assigned members of the UEC sub-commission at Myanmar's state and regional levels, election authorities allowed voters to cast ballots without presenting their national identification cards, voters cast multiple ballots under the same name, and the NLD election victory committee members were part of a commission in charge of gathering early ballots.

The announcement was quickly rejected by several of Myanmar's political parties, who argued that it ignores the will of both the country's 37 million registered voters and the candidates who they say won in a free and fair election.

Candidates from 10 political parties won parliamentary seats in the 2020 election, although the NLD party took the clear majority with 396 of 664 seats in the bicameral legislature.

On Tuesday, Aung Kyi Nyunt, a member of the NLD's Central Executive Committee who won a seat in the Amyothar Hluttaw (National Assembly) from Magwe region's No. 6 constituency, called the decision to annul the election results a "violation" of the country's 2008 constitution, drafted by the then-ruling junta government under Snr. Gen. Than Shwe.

"Firstly, an election body appointed by the [junta] cannot simply reject the results like this. Secondly, the will of the people cannot be annulled through an order based on the decision of one group of people on a piece of paper. And thirdly, we have no reason to recognize an election commission formed by an illegitimate government," he said.

"We firmly believe that this statement is not legally binding or democratically viable."

Aung Kyi Nyunt said the junta had committed itself to a path of "total self-destruction," devoid of popular support, by choosing to annul the ballot results and ignore the will of the people.

Myanmar's military seized power on Feb. 1 in a coup d'Ă©tat, arresting former State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other top members of the NLD leadership.

Three weeks after the coup, the UEC convened a meeting with the country's political parties, informing them that the 2020 election results would be annulled and that the NLD would likely be disbanded for rigging the vote.

The junta has provided no evidence to back up its claims of voter fraud and has violently responded to widespread protests, killing 934 people and arresting 5,382, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

'No more confidence'

On Tuesday, Aye Thida Myint, the chairwoman of the Lahu National Development Party (LNDP), who won a state seat in last year's ballot, said the annulment marked a new low for the junta.

"The cancellation of the results means that everything we did for the elections, all of our efforts, have gone down the drain," she said.

"After all this, even if new elections are to be held, we'll have no more confidence in the current political situation. The annulment has destroyed the goals and aspirations of the people. This is totally unacceptable to us."

Thar Tun Hla, the chairman of the Rakhine National Party (ANP) who won a seat in the 2020 election, said the military may have scrapped the election results in response to claims by parliament's Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Committee of Representatives (CRPH) and the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) that they represent the interests of the people.

"The annulment of the election results could be a move to refute the claim by CRPH and NUG that they represent the people's will and that they have a mandate," he said.

In 2020, the ANP won four seats in the Pyithu Hluttaw, or Lower House, and four seats in the National Assembly, as well as 15 seats in seven state and regional assemblies.

Attempts by RFA to contact Dr. Nandar Hla Myint, the spokesperson of the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which won 71 seats in the 2020 election, went unanswered Tuesday.

The USDP, made up of retired army officers, refused to accept the results of the 2020 elections and its calls for a new vote set the stage for the military coup. The junta has said it will hold another ballot in a year.

Uniting the opposition

Political analyst Than Soe Naing slammed the junta's decision to annul the election results at a time when the international community is calling for the return of power to the civilian NLD government.

"This goes against the real will of the people," he said.

"It's part of a process that seeks to justify a dishonorable coup … But we're seeing that not even the parties which supported [the military] politically can accept this move."

Aung Htoo, a Sweden-based Burmese lawyer, also criticized the annulment of the internationally recognized election results and suggested it would lead to the downfall of the junta.

"It will never be possible to have a federal democracy and a lasting peace under the leadership of the military regime," he said.

"This decision will push the ethnic forces, the pro-democracy forces and the people as a whole to join forces in fighting against the military to achieve their goal of peace."

Reported by RFA's Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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