1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Myanmar opposition demands general election re-run

Cape Diamond | May Thingyan
December 2, 2020

The military-backed USDP has called for a general election re-run with the help of the army, alleging irregularities and "unfair campaigning." Cape Diamond and May Thingyan report from Yangon.

Protesters celebrate NLD's victory in Myanmar (Shwe Paw Mya Tin/REUTERS)

The Union Election Commission of Myanmar (UEC) declared the country's elections as "free and fair" despite ongoing criticism of an unjust election from various opponents including the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) — the military-backed main opposition which  faced a crushing defeat in November.

The UEC released official results on November 14 — almost a week after Myanmar's general election. Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party  won a landslide victory , securing 396 out of 476 seats. The NLD now holds a majority in both legislative houses — enough to form a government.

NLD spokesman Monywa Aung Shin said the NLD's win showed just how much faith the people of Myanmar still had in Suu Kyi's leadership.

The win is a boost for the Nobel Peace laureate who has had a tumultuous first term, struggling to meet high public expectations. Suu Kyi also came  under international scrutiny over the Rohingya crisis.

The USDP nevertheless continues to slam the election results, appealing for a re-run with the assistance of the military "in order to have an election that is free, fair, unbiased and free from unfair campaigning."

Read moreOpinion: Myanmar wakes up from dream of democracy

Suu Kyi's party calls for evidence of wrongdoing

At a press conference, the USDP alleged irregularities in the election from poor-quality ballot boxes to voting problems. The USDP itself had secured 24 seats, according to the official results.

The election commission said any allegations of irregularities were from a minority of participants.

According to international observers, the election went smoothly and without major irregularities.

The military, in an earlier statement, said the election had been carried out successfully. On Monday, however, the Office of the Commander in Chief of Defense Services announced that the military is scrutinizing and reviewing the election process across 218 townships and verifying whether the process took place in accordance with the law.

Read more:  Does Myanmar soldiers' murder confession prove Rohingya genocide? 

The NLD, meanwhile, has called for evidence of wrongdoing. The party claimed victory based on its own data just a few days after the November 8 polls while the UEC delayed announcing the vote counting.

Ye Htut, an ex-spokesperson for former President Thein Sein, told DW that Myanmar's current electoral body had not been transparent regarding the election process.

"The previous election commission allowed monitoring organizations as well as pre-election preparations such as the printing of the ballot-papers and drafting of election regulations. But the U Hla Thein commission didn't allow monitoring of the voting instructions and ballot-paper printing," Htut said.

Myanmar election: voters set to cast ballots amid COVID-19

Fake news

A delay in official voting results from the UEC triggered anxiety among citizens nationwide.

Fake news emerging on social media websites during elections compounded widespread unease.

Phyu Phyu Thi, program director of the independent fact-checking organization Real or Not, told DW that  fake news spread rapidly across social media platforms during elections.

Phyu Thi said one type of fake news the group uncovered was a news item circulating on Facebook claiming that Suu Kyi and party officials had "prepared to run away from the country if the NLD lost the campaign."

The Yangon-based agency, a signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), also debunked fake news claiming that a number of polling stations were shut down before the official closing time.

"We found fake news over the election results and a group of people used that misinformation to prompt a protest against the UEC and the election results," she said, adding that some fake news claimed that the number of votes exceeded the total registered number of votes.

Read moreFake news and trolls lead to fall in global internet freedom

On November 16, UEC chairman Hla Thein admitted during an interview with state-owned news channel MRTV that there was fake news circulating about total votes.

"It [fake news] was saying that more than 39 million people voted while the registered are only over 37 million. This is fake news," he said.

"We have more than 38 million registered voters, while 27 million people voted. So the voter turnout is more than 70%," he continued, adding that the UEC would resolve the issue. 

Maung Tar, editor of Mandalay In-depth news, a local news outlet based in the central city of Mandalay, criticized the UEC for how it distributed information to the media.

"Local sub-commission [of the UEC] is not even accepting questions from the media. They were only posting the [election] results from their Facebook page. So it was the only official source we could rely upon regarding the results besides NLD's dashboard," Tar told DW.

The UEC has not officially responded to criticisms of the election process.