IMPHAL, March 26: To oversee the upcoming by-election of Myanmar as an international election observer, state chief electoral officer P.C. Lawmkunga along with his Assamese counterpart Maninder Singh will leave for the bordering country on March 28.
The CEO had been suggested by the Election Commission of India following Myanmar’s invitation to depute election observers from India and other countries in a bid to open up the election process to avoid severe criticism of electoral practice.
Speaking to IFP on the phone, the state CEO deliberated that he would be leaving the state for Kolkata tomorrow from where he will be leaving for Myanmar on March 28.
“It is a very prestigious and rare opportunity for me”,he further stated. The CEO added that his appointment as an international observer was an acknowledgement of the successful completion of the most difficult election held recently in the state.
Aside from the two CEO’s three journalist from the country have also been selected to cover the by election.
It may be mentioned that the 2012 Myanmar by elections is scheduled to be held on April 1 to fill up 48 vacant parliamentary seats.
According to a report of the Mizzima news agency, Burmese President Thein Sein on Sunday had called on all levels and branches of the government, political parties and voters to help make the April 1 by-election free and fair.
He had announced that international observers have been invited to monitor the elections, which are being carefully watched by the world as a test of the government’s commitment to democratic reforms. The April 1 by-elections will be the first held in the new government’s era.
The election is being hotly contested by the National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who has said repeatedly in recent weeks that the election is close to being declared unfair because of government officials who have put obstacles in the path of NLD campaign activities. The main opposition party National League for Democracy (NLD) was re-registered for the by-election on December 13 last year. NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi will run for the seat of Kawhmu. She was freed from house arrest by the Myanmar dictatorship in 2010.
In previous elections only the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party monitors were allowed to observe the elections and ballot counts.
Since taking office in March 2011 after deeply flawed elections the new president U. Thein Sein, a former general took steps to break away from the highly centralized and erratic policies of the past.
United States, European Union, China and North Korea as well as ASEAN dialogue partners were also invited to observe the by-election.