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Myanmar By-election “Cancelled”

Myanmar’s Union Election Com- mission said that it is cancel- ling by-elections that were

scheduled for later this year to fill 35 empty parliamentary seats.

Commission chairman Tin Aye made the surprise announcement at a media briefing in Yangon.

The reasons include preparations for the 2015 general election, Myanmar’s duties hosting the summit of Association of South- east Asian Nations in November, and an election law that political parties field at least 3 candidates or cease to exist, a re- quirement he described as burdensome for the country’s 67 political parties.

The Election Commission had earlier said that a date would be announced soon for holding the by-elections for the open seats, vacated by lawmakers who had resigned to take other positions or who had passed away.The decision did not come as a sur- prise. There have been rumors for months that the by-elections would not he held this year.

Many political and economic experts com- mented that even if by-election were held as the commission planned before, the result would not result in any significant chang- es and would just be a waste of time and money. The commission had announced in March that by-elections would be held later this year to fill more than 30 seats vacated for various reasons.

One lower house member, Khaing Maung Yi, said he had not heard anything about the decision, and said the reasons given were just excuses.

“They should hold the elections since they have already announced them,” he said. Myanmar’s legislature has 224 members in the upper house and 440 members in the lower house; 25 per cent of each house is oc- cupied by military appointees.