Myanmar election commission rejects military’s fraud claims

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Police stand guard behind a road barricade, part of security preparations ahead of next week's opening of Myanmar's parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar Friday, Jan. 29, 2021. Myanmar's election commission rejected allegations by the military that fraud played a significant role in determining the outcome of November's elections, which delivered a landslide victory to Aung San Suu Kyi's ruling party. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)

NAYPYITAW – Myanmar’s election commission rejected allegations by the military that fraud played a significant role in determining the outcome of November’s elections, which delivered a landslide victory to Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party.

The decision, announced Thursday, came amid heightened tensions after the military, which had ruled Myanmar for five decades until 2015, refused to rule out the possibility of a coup if their complaints were ignored.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party captured 396 out of 476 seats in the Nov. 8 polls, allowing them to form the government for another five years. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won only 33 seats.

The military has been calling on the government and the Union Election Commission to review the results. It says it has found 8.6 million irregularities in voter lists in 314 townships that could have let voters cast multiple ballots or commit other "voting malpractice,” but the election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims.

On Tuesday, a military spokesperson declined to rule out a coup, saying the military would continue to file complaints about alleged irregularities in line with laws and the constitution.

Myanmar’s military chief Min Aung Hlaing on Wednesday told senior officers in a speech that the constitution could be revoked if the laws are not being properly enforced.

“The constitution is the mother law for all laws. So we all need to abide by the constitution. If one does not follow the law, such law must be revoked. If it is the constitution, it is necessary to revoke the constitution,” he said.

The party of Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace prize laureate, won the previous elections in 2015 also in a landslide. But her ability to run the country has been hamstrung by a clause in the 2008 army-drafted constitution giving the military 25% of the seats in parliament that allows it to block constitutional reforms.