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World

Myanmar ruling party claims poll irregularities

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

YANGON - Myanmar's army-backed ruling party on Friday said it would lodge an official complaint about poll irregularities after being trounced in by-elections by democracy opponents led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) claimed Suu Kyi's party or its supporters were involved in some incidents, including campaigning too close to polling stations during Sunday's by-elections.

The allegations centre on Yangon and nearby Kawhmu, where Suu Kyi ran and won, but many claims were not explicitly directed at her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

Former Yangon mayor Aung Thein Linn said the complaints were not meant to question the credibility of the vote.

"We are objecting to the process, not the (opposition) party," he told reporters.

Suu Kyi has vowed to press ahead with lodging her own complaints over irregularities against the NLD, despite an overwhelming win that saw the party take 43 of the 45 available seats.

The USDP won just one seat in parliament -- the only one not contested by the NLD.

USDP candidate Soe Min, who was comprehensively beaten by the Nobel laureate in Kawhmu, complained that some people waved the NLD flag in front of his office in Kawhmu on election day, but said he was not sure if they were party members or ordinary supporters.

"I have two concrete complaints of ballot officers ticking ballot papers on behalf of voters," added the former army doctor.

Other claims included advanced votes being cast without voters' consent.

Myanmar President Thein Sein was at the head of the USDP when it swept to victory in 2010 elections that were marred by claims of cheating and the absence of Suu Kyi and her party.

Unlike in 2010, the Myanmar government allowed foreign observers and journalists to witness Sunday's polls, although there was no comprehensive international monitoring of the campaign and vote.

A European official said her limited polling station tour showed "very encouraging" signs for the vote, which was broadly welcomed by the international community.

Thein Sein, a former general, has undertaken a raft of reforms since taking power -- including welcoming Suu Kyi back into the political mainstream -- and he said this week that the by-elections had been a success.

The United States responded to the vote by pledging to ease restrictions on investment to Myanmar, while a senior European Union diplomat in Brussels told AFP the EU is now leaning toward a "substantial" removal of sanctions.

 

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