As speculated by the international community, the Burmese military regime has promulgated the election law in an exclusive, undemocratic manner. It is now expected that the referees of the electoral competition, or so called Union Election Commission (UEC), will be handpicked by the regime to ensure regime nominees gain office.
The election law issued on 8th March, 2010 has been scrutinized carefully by experts and diplomats as to whether it serves a democratic system and involves all stakeholders. According to the recent announcement by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), under the Article 443 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, they have enacted the Law, to form the Union Election Commission (UEC), for supervising political parties and voters in the exercise of their right to stand for election and carry out their franchise.
From what we are aware, the election law (No. 1/2010) raises concerns about the UEC's credibility and transparency in holding the election in accordance with international standards. The five members of the Union Election Commission (UEC) must be qualified and totally independent. Since they will conduct the crucial poll under abnormal circumstances, the following requirements are not over demanding.
The Union Election Commissioners must:
1. Be representatives of different professions and be accepted by all stakeholders.
2. Be neutral and impartial in their administration and actions and will not have compromising affiliations to any political party or the junta.
3. Compile voters’ lists with accurate information and census.
4. Be capable of handling the work throughout the country independently, with the ability to select qualified members as sub-commissioners and supervise them at all levels (Division, Zone, District, Township, Ward and Village).
5. Have the courage to tackle electoral impunity, together with the electoral court, in a just manner.
6. Respect the principles of democracy, free and fair elections and human rights.
7. Believe in the principle of one person one vote and the rights of eligible voters.
8. Not influence the decision of voters nor be dominated by any power group or the military.
9. Support freedom of expression, assembly and association.
10. Promote equality, transparency, people participation and checks and balances.
11. Respect the secrecy of voters and provide security for all.
12. Have the ability to hold electoral voter education, civic education and outreach.
13. Treat ruling and opposition parties equally and fairly and handle all complaints professionally.
14. Not allow government officers to campaign or use state resources in favor of any specific candidate or party.
15. Cooperate with the media for distributing comprehensive information and facts.
16. Have the independence and sense of fairness to require the SPDC to amend all election related laws that are not just or violate the rights of the people. They will have the courage to punish those who violate the common rules.
17. Be confident in their roles and duties as the supreme body of the election. No other illegitimate power should obstruct their work and independence.
18. Make and issue necessary rules, procedures, notifications, orders and directives for the benefit and justice of all stakeholders.
19. Receive advice from electoral experts or experienced commissioners of other countries or from the UN.
20. Encourage local and international observers and media to monitor and observe the coming election.
Last but crucially, the UEC commissioners should encourage the SPDC to release all political prisoners and Aung San Suu Kyi so they can take part in the election, allow all prisoners to vote inside the prisons (like the Indonesian and Nepalese models) because they are citizens of Burma, and enable overseas people with Burmese nationality the ability to vote at Burmese Embassies or consular offices in every country.
If Burma is to realize national reconciliation and begin the process of creating a true democracy, the UEC must be vigilant in fulfilling the requirements above.