Maungdaw, Arakan State: Votes in Burma’s long-awaited and much maligned national election have been cast and counted as an early poll system went into effect in Maungdaw Township yesterday.
National voting is officially scheduled to begin on November 7, Burma’s first election since the now disbanded National League for Democracy swept the 1990 polls but was prevented from taking power.
“We started the advance voting system with township officers. The plan was to start tomorrow, but we decided to do it two days early in two villages to test the system,” an official from the township election commission’s office said when contacted by Kaladan News.
“We have our own program for watching the voting area,” the official added.
The township election commissioner was ordered to supervise village commissioners to monitor voting in their areas, an election watchdog group in Maungdaw said.
The township election commission office began voting yesterday in Bagonenah and Nyaung Chaung villages, where commission officers were only allowed to accept votes cast for the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), said the election watchdog group.
“If anyone wishes to vote for a party other than the USDP, they cannot vote in advance. 1,500 votes were received for the USDP yesterday in Bagonenah,” the group said.
A National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD) organizer said few details have been provided about the system, though it appears designed to favor the Burmese junta-backed USDP.
“The commissioner’s office has refused to give any explanation for the early voting in certain areas. The Election Commission office is only dealing with village election commissioners in the voting areas.”
An early voting system was announced last month to make it easier for the elderly, sick or women voters in Maungdaw and was scheduled to begin on November 6.