'Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy - STEP Democracy'

Union Election Commission and CSOs discuss 2020 Myanmar general election preparation

24 July, 2020

As the big day for Myanmar people, the 2020 Myanmar general election, is coming closer, the stakeholders, such as Union Election Commission, political parties and civil society organizations, who are involved in Myanmar’s electoral processes are preparing to perform  their roles effectively in the upcoming election.

Among the stakeholders, the role of civil society in elections often takes the form of supporting the democratic election process by empowering voters and advocating for reform within political parties, the government and the UEC.  Civil society also perform important monitoring functions of elections by conducting election observation and monitoring social media.

“The role of Civil Society Organizations is essential in election processes. There will be another milestone in Myanmar’s election historic if CSOs and the UEC can work together to ensure free, fair, transparent and credible 2020 elections,” the spokesperson of the Union Election Commission, U Myint Naing mentioned in the Q&A section at the UEC – CSOs conference, held in Naypyitaw on 17 July 2020.

The conference was organized with the joint support of CEPPS partners (IFES, IRI, NDI), STEP Democracy partners (International IDEA, DRI), the UEC and the European Union. The conference provided space for representatives from a total of 76 civil society organizations from Myanmar’s different States and Regions and the Union Election Commission to have a face-to-face talk on ongoing election preparations for the 2020 election.

The UEC chairman highlighted the preparation of the display of the voter list, of election observation, the election campaign, election security, and COVID- 19 prevention materials for election day.

CSO representatives highlighted their challenges and obstacles in conducting civic and voter education activities, in relation to issues such as requesting permission from local authorities. The UEC was asked to support CSOs and work in partnership ahead of the elections.

Another discussion topic was the clarification of domestic observer accreditation procedures, including in relation to the electoral dispute resolution process.

“I think it would be better if more coordination meetings like this one could be held in State and Region levels and Township levels. By attending the meeting, I received updated information regarding the UEC’s activities and the status of preparations for the 2020 General Election. I will share this updated information with our partner organizations,” U Saw Maung from Golden Generation said.

STEP Democracy provides support to CSOs to observe the electoral process, advocate for an improved election framework, and provide voter education, particularly in remote areas.

“I got very clear information from the UEC regarding registration processes for CSOs. UEC also informed us that in the case of registration, the Union Election Commission can write a letter of recommendation if it meets the set standards. I think this is a positive way for us.  For Civic/Voter Education activities implemented by CSOs in conflict areas like Rakhine State, I would like to suggest the UEC sub-commissions and CSOs need to cooperate,” said Sit Yeik from Diversity for Love (DFL).

The European Union (EU) funded programme ‘Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy – STEP Democracy’ – supports inclusive, peaceful, and credible electoral processes and enhances the capacity of national stakeholders to strengthen Myanmar’s democratic transition. The programme works with the Union Election Commission (UEC), political parties and civil society organizations (CSOs), through innovative approaches to support Myanmar’s democratic transition with tailor-made programming in line with the unique needs of each electoral stakeholder.

“I am very pleased that participants raised questions to UEC and UEC answered these questions as much as they can. UEC also invited all CSOs to cooperate with UEC for the 2020 election, that is a good sign between UEC and CSOs,” said Win Thant Oo from Youth Strength Association.