Myanmar’s Union Election Commission today said it is canceling by-elections that were scheduled for later this year to fill 35 empty parliamentary seats.
Commission chairman Tin Aye made the surprise announcement at a media briefing in Yangon.
Reasons he gave included preparations for the 2015 general election, Myanmar’s duties hosting the summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations in November, and an election law that political parties field at least 3 candidates or cease to exist, a requirement he described as burdensome for the country’s 67 political parties.
Tin Aye also said that next year’s elections will most likely take place in November, the most specific time mentioned so far.
The commission had announced in March that by-elections would be held later this year to fill more than 30 seats vacated for various reasons.
One lower house member, Khaing Maung Yi, said he had not heard anything about the decision, and said the reasons given were just excuses.
“They should hold the elections since they have already announced them,” he said.
Nyan Win, a spokesman for the party of democracy icon Aung Sang Suu Kyi, said that while it wasn’t good that the commission had decided to cancel the elections, the results would not have had much political significance since 2015’s general elections are “very close.”
Myanmar’s legislature has 224 members in the upper house and 440 members in the lower house; 25 per cent of each house is occupied by military appointees.