A-WEB Membership Status of Myanmar’s UEC
5 July 2021
Mr. Jonghyun Choe
Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB)
Subject: A-WEB Membership Status of Myanmar’s UEC
We are writing to express our concern regarding the membership status in A-WEB of the Union Election Commission (UEC) of Myanmar.
As you are surely aware, the Myanmar military staged a coup on 1 February 2021 and detained numerous government officials, including UEC chair U Hla Thein and other election officials at the state and township level across the country. Following the coup, the military junta illegally and illegitimately formed a parallel election commission chaired by U Thein Soe, the former UEC chair who oversaw the 2010 general elections.
To date, U Hla Thein and other UEC officials and staff remain in detention without charge. Meanwhile, the junta-appointed UEC has declared the results of the 2020 general elections invalid, without providing any solid evidence of the alleged fraud, and revealed its plan to dissolve the National League of Democracy (NLD) party, which won landslide victories in both the 2015 and 2020 elections.
A large number of political parties and civil society organizations not aligned with the military junta in Myanmar have refused to acknowledge or engage in any way with the junta-appointed UEC. We respectfully urge A-WEB, the world’s largest international organization of election management bodies, to do the same and recognize the legitimate UEC as its rightful member. Providing any technical support to an illegal election commission propped up by an illegitimate and violent régime would be akin to endorsing the coup in Myanmar.
We also urge all election commissions in Asia and beyond to refrain from engaging in any way, shape, or form with the junta-appointed UEC and to continue to recognize as their rightful counterpart in Myanmar the one led by U Hla Thein. To do otherwise would be to create a dangerous precedent which could then be used by other régimes eager to replace duly-appointed election officials for political gain.
We believe that A-WEB’s credibility depends on its ability to act in a timely manner and effectively to hold the military junta and the junta-appointed UEC accountable. As an election monitoring group working on democratization in Myanmar since 2012, ANFREL stands ready to offer further insight about the situation in Myanmar for the A-WEB leadership before any decision is made. You may also access our international election observation report for Myanmar’s November 2020 general elections at the following address:
CC: Election Commissions of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia,
Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste
This letter is endorsed by the following ANFREL members:
1. Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (FEFA)
2. Transparent Elections Foundation of Afghanistan (TEFA)
3. Odhikar, Bangladesh
4. Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL)
5. Neutral & Impartial Committee for Free & Fair Elections in Cambodia (NICFEC)
6. Programme for Comparative Democracy (Lokniti), India
7. Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih Untuk Rakyat (JPPR), Indonesia
8. Komite Independen Pemantau Pemilu (KIPP), Indonesia
9. Perkumpulan untuk Pemilu dan Demokrasi (PERLUDEM), Indonesia
10. Transparency Maldives
11. Women for Social Progress (WSP), Mongolia
12. New Myanmar Foundation, Myanmar
13. National Election Observation Committee (NEOC), Nepal
14. National Citizen Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), Philippines
15. MARUAH, Singapore
16. People Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), South Korea
17. PAFFREL, Sri Lanka
18. Center for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), Sri Lanka
19. People Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL), Sri Lanka
20. Citizen Congress Watch (CCW), Taiwan
21. Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (Poll Watch Foundation-Thailand)
22. Women Caucus for Politic, Timor Leste
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