Yangon, July 1
Myanmar announced on Wednesday it will hold elections on November 8 for the national, regional and state parliaments.
The state Union Election Commission announced the date in a statement on its Facebook page.
The last general election in 2015 brought to power the National League for Democracy party of Aung San Suu Kyi after more than five decades of military rule.
Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory, partly through tactical alliances with ethnic minority parties that were also eager to get rid of military rule.
Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner who won the Nobel Peace Prize for leading a nonviolent pro-democracy movement for more than two decades, remains by far the country’s most popular politician.
The international condemnation of her government for allowing security forces to carry out widespread abuses of the Muslim Rohingya minority — driving more than 700,000 to seek safety in neighbouring Bangladesh — appears unlikely to play any significant role in the upcoming campaign.
However, the failure of her government to reach a workable plan to give the ethnic groups the autonomy they have long sought — and in some cases, continued to fight for in armed conflicts — has estranged them politically, and they seem likely to seek to boost their own parties rather than ally with Suu Kyi’s.
Another roadblock for Suu Kyi and her party is the continuing influence of the military.
Even though Myanmar now has elections, a constitution enacted in 2008 while the military still held power gives the armed forces one-quarter of the seats in the lower and upper houses of the national parliament, giving them veto power over any changes to the charter.
The election commission announced that more than 37 million people are eligible to vote and 97 parties will be contesting the polls. There are a total of 1,171 seats at stake at the national, state and regional levels. AP