Myanmar Election Went `Better Than Expected,' EU Observer Says

National League for Democracy (NLD) party supporters celebrate election results outside the party headquarters in Yangon, Myanmar, on Monday, Nov. 9, 2015

Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

Myanmar’s election went “better than expected,” with few instances of voter irregularities, though more reforms were needed to improve transparency and democracy, the European Union’s chief election observer said.

Thousands of international and domestic observers were accredited to follow the Sunday voting and election officials were “welcoming and forthcoming” with information, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, chief observer of the EU’s Election Observation Mission said at a press conference Tuesday in Yangon. Ninety-five percent of the 500 polling stations covered by EU monitors obtained a “good” or “very good” rating. “That is a very high number he said,” he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy dominated the first districts that reported results. Party officials said the NLD was on track for a landslide victory over the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, though it may be days or weeks before a final tally is official. The election appeared to be the freest since the country’s generals began experimenting with democracy 25 years ago, ending half a century of military rule.

“This election is not over yet,” Lambsdorff said. “As long as counting is going on and until the final results are published, the election is still going.”

Lambsdorff raised concerns about a lack of transparency regarding advance voting, which he called a “black box.” For “truly genuine elections” voting must also become more inclusive and Myanmar should find a way to enfranchise millions of stateless Muslims who can’t participate, he said. The process should also be overhauled to let voters choose all the legislators for at least one chamber of parliament. Currently candidates linked to the military receive 25 percent of the seats in each house.

“Myanmar’s transition to democracy is incomplete, but it is still ongoing,” said Jason Carter, chairman of the Carter Center, which participated in observing the election. “The constitutional framework from which this election occurs is heavily flawed and contains serious undemocratic elements including the reservation of 25 percent of the parliament for unelected military representatives and there are still also some constraints on freedom of expression.”

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