Myanmar’s Junta Annuls 2020 Election Results, Citing Voter Fraud

Myanmar’s junta has annulled the results of the country’s 2020 election, which saw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party win in a landslide, drawing condemnation from political parties who condemned the move as illegal and said they will not honor it.

The military-appointed Union Election Commission (UEC) announced the decision late on Monday evening, claiming that more than 11.3 million ballots had been discounted due to fraud and other irregularities during the Nov. 8 vote.

Among alleged irregularities, the commission said the deposed NLD government had assigned members of the UEC sub-commission at Myanmar’s state and regional levels, election authorities allowed voters to cast ballots without presenting their national identification cards, voters cast multiple ballots under the same name, and the NLD election victory committee members were part of a commission in charge of gathering early ballots.

The announcement was posted on the website of the junta’s Information Committee under the name of Thein Soe, the chairman of junta’s UEC.

Myanmar’s military seized power on Feb. 1 in a coup d’état, arresting Aung San Suu Kyi and other top member of the NLD leadership.

The junta has provided no evidence to back up its claims of voter fraud and has violently responded to widespread protests, killing 934 people and arresting 5,370, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Several of Myanmar’s political parties rejected Monday’s announcement, arguing that it ignores the will of both the voters and the candidates who they say won in a free and fair election. 

Candidates from 10 political parties won parliamentary seats in the 2020 election, although the NLD party took the clear majority with 396.

NLD lawmaker Phyu Phyu Thin, secretary of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Representative Committee (CRPH) shadow parliament, told RFA’s Myanmar Service that the election results cannot be annulled without appropriate legislation.

“Citizens across Myanmar and people around the world already knew that the election fraud accusations were just a lame excuse to make way for the military coup. Besides, given the fact that they came to power through a military coup—an unjust method—they lack the legitimacy to cancel the election results and we will not accept the announcement,” she said.

“We are already working with ethnic armed groups and civil society groups to eliminate the military dictatorship from Myanmar, once and for all. So, we don’t need to take their announcement seriously.”

‘They planned it all along’

Sai Nyunt Lwin, chairman of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) party, said his party’s candidates won 42 parliamentary seats in Shan State through a free and fair contest.

“We didn’t have any connections to the election commission members or local authorities. We didn’t have any ties to the persons in charge of the polling stations. The only people we communicated with were our voters,” he said.

“Those who didn’t like our party voted for other parties. We feel sorry that they canceled the election results after we won the third-most seats in the parliament among all political parties. We feel bad and we don’t like that they canceled the results.”

Similarly, Phae Than, a leader of Arakan National Party (ANP), which won several seats in Rakhine state, echoed concerns that the junta was using the claims of fraud to justify its takeover.

“We can see that they planned it all along. We know that their intention is to abolish the NLD party and they are now actively trying to do that. Whether their actions are fair or not, we can judge them on their intentions alone,” he said.

“Nonetheless, I do believe that canceling the election results of all constituencies for the entire country is unreasonable. If they can prove that voting fraud occurred in specific constituencies, they could have canceled the results of those constituencies. Now, other candidates who won the election fairly are paying the price. It is completely unreasonable.”

Attempts by RFA to contact Dr. Nandar Hla Myint, the spokesperson of the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which won 71 seats in the 2020 election, went unanswered Monday.

The USDP, made up of retired army officers, refused to accept the results of the 2020 elections and its calls for a new vote set the stage for the military coup. The junta has said it will hold another ballot in a year.

Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Ye Kaung Myint Maung. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.