Ahead of Myanmar’s General Elections, scheduled for 8 November 2020, Democracy Reporting International (DRI) and the Danish Institute of Political Parties (DIPD) partnered with the Myanmar Network for Free and Fair Elections (Mynfrel) to deliver comprehensive training for domestic election observers, political parties and media, under the EU-funded STEP Democracy programme. The Election Academy was held from 20 to 26 July and consisted of 7 modules to provide participants with a solid knowledge of how the different elements of the election cycle- ranging from the voter registration process to election dispute resolution- are described in Myanmar laws and regulations. Each module started with an introduction to relevant international standards.
Due to high demand with over 300 applications to the Election Academy, two training batches with 15 participants each were held. Political party representatives, domestic election observers as well as media representatives discussed issues such as the Union Election Commission’s (UEC) mandate, voter and candidate eligibility and registration, campaign and campaign finance regulations, polling, counting results tabulation procedures, election dispute resolution. In cooperation with the Myanmar Press Council (MPC), the Academy included a module on the Myanmar Code of Conduct for media reporting on elections.
The mixed nature of the Academy, with participants from political parties, civil society organizations, and media provided space for all stakeholders to share their different experiences. The course included time for discussion, for example in breakout group work, so that participants could apply newly learned concepts and share their views and opinions. After elections, the participants will be able to use the knowledge and networks to advocate for electoral reform.
Almost 74% of the respondents felt they have more confidence in electoral reform advocacy after the training. And 100% stated that they would like to learn more about the electoral process through the academy. Overall 79% agreed that they feel better positioned to conduct analysis on the electoral legal framework.
“Elections are the essence of democracy. Elections should be transparent, free-and-fair. Through the elections, citizens have the right to choose the leader and government which can represent them. We can obviously see the basic civil and political rights in the elections. I learned about the electoral legal framework of Myanmar’s Elections in the 7-day-training. I will share as well as reapply that knowledge in my academic work,” said Thwin Ko Ko Latt.
Under the EU funded STEP Democracy Programme, as part of DRI’s support to credible elections and enhancing the capacity of stakeholders involved in electoral advocacy, DRI developed a manual on the Legal Framework for elections in 2015, which was used as a resource to train domestic election observers and is currently being adapted to reflect changes made in laws and regulations. In addition, STEP Democracy will work with participants to form an alumni network, which can contribute to a broad-based election reform debate.