Yangon/Brussels: Myanmar is preparing to hold national elections in early November 2015, five years after the last full set of polls brought the semi-civilian reformist government to power. The elections, which are constitutionally required within this timeframe, will be a major political inflection point, likely replacing a legislature dominated by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), established by the former regime, with one more reflective of popular sentiment. The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party of Aung San Suu Kyi is well-placed to take the largest bloc of seats.
Election administration is much improved, but there remain major challenges to credible polls – a fragile and incomplete peace process, disenfranchisement of some Muslim communities, and risks of communal violence. Electoral security and ensuring maximum participation must be critical priorities of the election commission, along with concerted voter education efforts. Tim Johnston, Asia Program Director, @timalexjohn
The elections come less than five years into what will be a long and difficult transition for Myanmar. They could help build confidence and inject fresh momentum into the reforms, or they could damage the delicate compromises that have so far kept the process broadly on track. Political leaders on all sides must ensure that zero-sum politics does not imperil the country’s future. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, President & CEO, @JGuehenno