Watchdog demands govt stop meddling with EC

Watchdog demands govt stop meddling with EC

An independent election watchdog is calling on the Election Commission (EC) to exercise independence in redrawing the election constituencies, saying it is a first step towards a free and fair election.

The call by the Open Forum for Democracy Foundation (P-NET) is in response to the regime's controversial order on the issue, which is widely seen as a pretext to delay the polls.

P-NET is urging the poll agency to be independent in doing its job and take into account factors such as demographic changes, public participation and voter convenience, in demarcating the boundaries of constituencies.

The election watchdog sees the regime's order that empowers the EC to examine complaints and redraw the electoral map where necessary as "outright interference", because it comes after the EC completed the job and was about to publish it in the Royal Gazette.

According to P-NET, the EC has already issued regulations involving the demarcation of boundaries, and required provincial election offices to come up with three electoral maps for political parties and the public to consider.

"By allowing the EC to make changes without gathering further opinions, the [regime's] order may lead to the unfair carving out of electoral boundaries in the favour of certain parties, especially pro-military ones," said the watchdog.

A few days before the regime issued the order last Friday, the EC said it was about to submit the electoral map to be announced in the Royal Gazette. It was widely speculated the new boundaries would be known by Nov 16.

Meanwhile, the EC said 64 parties and 11 groups have agreed to attend the Nov 22 meeting on primary voting.

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