16 Mar Coordinated measures

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Western embassies outline election support strategy

Photo: EPA

Western embassies in Myanmar have outlined a comprehensive package of support aimed at helping to ensure that the election due late this year is inclusive, credible and transparent.

The embassies of Australia, Denmark, the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States outlined the coordinated measures in a joint statement issued on March 3.

The success of the election “will be measured by the integrity of the electoral process and an outcome that reflects the will of the people,” the joint statement said.

“Credible, transparent and inclusive electoral processes require long-term engagement with all stakeholders throughout the electoral cycle,” it said.

“We understand that building confidence in an election starts well before election day and includes confidence in the integrity of international election support.”

The countries that issued the statement said they were coordinating their support to government and non-government organisations for the electoral process based on international best practice.

“As donors and partners, we also commit to adhere to the principles of transparency, inclusiveness and equity,” the statement said.

“Our assistance aims to support and institutionalise the democratic process and does not support any specific party or candidate,” it said.

The statement listed a series of “critical steps to an inclusive, credible and transparent election”. It noted that while each donor was not involved in all of the listed activities, assistance was being coordinated to address five key elements of the electoral process.

They were identified as promoting international standards, establishing a framework for election observation, strengthening the capacity of stakeholders to promote democratic political competition, supporting civil society groups and the media to improve voter education and participation and encouraging increased dialogue among all stakeholders.

“We are providing the Union Election Commission with technical support on international best practices as it relates to electoral administration, including an updated voter list” to promote international standards, the statement said.

To establish a framework for observing the ballot, the donors were supporting the training and deployment of domestic and international election observers to enhance transparency and build voter confidence in the integrity of the election.

“International experience shows that election observation can increase accountability, reassure voters and help deter fraud and intimidation,” said the statement.

Strengthening the capacity of stakeholders to promote democratic political competition involved providing them with the tools they need to participate in the process and build organisations that are responsive to the people, it said.

Assistance was also being provided to civil society groups as they continue to promote voter registration and conduct voter education campaigns.

“We are also supporting media training to help ensure accurate, impartial and reliable information about the elections is widely available to the public,” the statement said.

Efforts to increase dialogue among stakeholders included encouraging the UEC, civil society groups, the media and political parties to exchange views regularly on the regulatory framework, organisation and management of the electoral process.

“In addition to our targeted elections support, we will continue to promote a peaceful and inclusive election environment,” the statement said.

“Freedom of the media, freedom of expression, non-discrimination and protection of human and associated rights are central to a credible election process,” it said.

This Article first appeared in the March 5, 2015 edition of Mizzima Weekly.

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