Myanmar election: No evidence fraud in 2020 vote, observers say

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A woman is raising her inked finger in front of the polling station after she finished to vote in November 2020
Some 27 million people took part in November's vote, electing Aung San Suu Kyi

Independent observers have rejected claims of voter fraud in Myanmar's 2020 election, three months after the military took power in a coup.

The Asian Network for Free Elections said the outcome of the vote was "by and large, representative of the will of the people of Myanmar".

The military has justified its February coup by alleging massive voter fraud, but provided no evidence.

The vote was won by Aung Sang Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

Ms Suu Kyi and other elected officials were arrested on 1 February in a series of early morning military raids. She has only been seen by video link since.

The election observers' report described the military's decision to ignore the election results as "indefensible" .

Myanmar's military has yet to respond to the report. It has previously said it will hold new elections within two years.

The Asian Network for Free Elections, which had observers at more than 400 polling stations during November's vote, did acknowledge a number of "irregularities" in how the vote was held - but the said they were caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a number of conflicts in the country at the time.

It also said those irregularities meant the election was not as free and fair as the previous vote in 2015.

But the outcome did represent the will of the people, the report concluded, and showed Myanmar's democracy was making progress.

"Despite the raging Covid-19 pandemic, 27.5 million people voted thanks to the hard work of polling staff and election or health officials; their voices cannot be silenced," the report said.

Myanmar in profile

  • Myanmar, also known as Burma, became independent from Britain in 1948. For much of its modern history it has been under military rule

  • Restrictions began loosening from 2010 onwards, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year

  • In 2017, Myanmar's army responded to attacks on police by Rohingya militants with a deadly crackdown, driving more than half a million Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh in what the UN later called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing"

Map of Myanmar showing Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon
Map of Myanmar showing Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon