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European Union Election Observation Mission presents Final Report

March 31 – The European Union Election Observation Mission of Myanmar presented its final report at a press conference in Yangon. The mission was headed by Chief Observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (Vice President of the European Parliament) who presented the report during the last days also to the Union Election Commission, the Government, Civil Society and the people of Myanmar

Overall, the EU EOM’s final report reflects the findings the Chief Observer presented in the mission’s Preliminary Statement issued just after the elections but it now contains a list of 50 recommendations for consideration by the authorities on how to improve future elections. The EU Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) was in Myanmar from September 2015 until February 2016 to observe all aspects of the general elections. “The peaceful and orderly way in which the elections were organised made them a critical milestone on Myanmar’s path to democracy. I congratulate the people of Myanmar and all those who contributed to the success of the election on what is a historic achievement”, said Chief Observer Lambsdorff.

“Moving forward, several laws and regulations can be improved which would also help to make the process more transparent and easier to understand for the citizens. For example, the procedure for advanced voting could be improved and the final voter list could be published before the election. This would enhance the credibility of future elections”, Lambsdorff said. “Elected institutions need to reflect the election result according to international standards for genuine elections. The provision that 25% of seats are filled by appointees is not compatible with these standards and should be abolished.”

“Also, the criteria used to determine who is a citizen and who is not should not be discriminatory or arbitrary. The right to vote should be enjoyed by those reasonably entitled to do so, including communities previously entitled to vote” emphasised the Chief Observer. He also stressed that “the right to stand for election needs to be reasonable and inclusive. A 10-year residency obligation for parliamentary candidates, for example, is too strict.”

With regard to the work of the Union Election Commission, Lambsdorff said: “The UEC must be congratulated on having achieved a momentous task. It is important, however, that the commission improves some of its practices so as to achieve a level of transparency and effectiveness which guarantees the confidence of citizens in the process. For example, all decisions should be in writing and they should be sent to the subcommissions more quickly than in the past.”

“The handing of election complaints and appeals must be timely and respect the principles of fair procedures. We recommend that dispute hearings should be made public with swift decisions provided in writing. Also, an independent review body could be created to avoid that the UEC passes final judgment on it own decisions.”

The European Union (EU) was invited to deploy an observation mission by the Union Election Commission of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Union Election Commission. The EU EOM is independent from any EU institutions or Member States or government institution and is committed to remain neutral and abide by the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and the Code of Conduct, as well as the laws of Republic of the Union of Myanmar