Myanmar’s much-anticipated election is due to take place today, Sunday 8th November. However, problems with missing ballot papers and inaccurate voter lists are confirming the long-held concerns of political opponents and advocacy groups that the poll will not be free and fair.
The election is the first since a nominally civilian government replaced military rule in 2011 and is widely considered to be a referendum on Myanmar’s reform process.
The international community has much invested in the success of election, but their investment, in both money and political will, is looking increasingly less likely to achieve the desired outcome.
According to Matthew Smith from the rights group Fortify Rights, “Many Western governments are hoping this election will be credible. But now that we know it won’t be, they should resist any temptation to rationalise or explain away the exclusion of Muslims and conflict-affected communities.”
The Rohingya Muslim minority has been barred from voting, alongside other minority groups, in a controversial move that marks them as non-citizens and, as such, takes away their eligibility to vote.
In a news conference in Yangon on Thursday, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed her fears that the election, and its result, could be manipulated by the ruling party. Whilst her opposition party, the National League for Democracy, is expected to make significant gains in the polls, they will need a strong result to gain any power.
In addition, under the current constitution, Suu Kyi is ineligible to lead the country, regardless of what happens in the election. Her path to the presidency has been blocked by a law that makes her foreign passport-holding children a barrier to holding office.
Ongoing controversy over voter lists, the growing strength of Buddhist Nationalism and the huge number of disenfranchised voters all work together to put the credibility of the election result in serious doubt.
- Pray for Myanmar, for the elections being held today, that they will be as free and fair as possible, for peace on the streets and an acceptance of the result from all parties.
- Pray that political parties will work together for the good of the country, not just their own power and gain.
- Pray for the government to recognise the Rohingya Muslims as citizens of Myanmar, and, as such, reinstate their rights, not only to vote, but to education ,medical care and employment.
- Pray for the spread of the gospel in Myanmar, for the Church to grow, and many to come to know Christ in this needy nation.
1 Timothy 2 vs 1 – 2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.