Burma’s highly anticipated November 8 election was cast into doubt Tuesday after the Union Election Commission proposed postponing the poll, saying heavy flooding in some areas in recent months would prevent free and fair elections.
In the meeting of Burma’s 10 largest political parties, the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) opposed the proposed postponement, while three others – including the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) – voted for the proposal.
An official announcement from the Election Commission was pending at time of writing.
A number of ethnic parties were absent from Tuesday’s meeting, while others said they were “neutral”.
7 of #Burma‘s biggest parties at UEC today to vote on postponing election. FOR: USDP, NDP, Farmers Dev. Party AGAINST: NLD 3 abstentions
— Angus Watson (@gus_watson) October 13, 2015
The development came a day after the postponement of polls in hundreds of villages in ethnic areas, also ostensibly due to the flooding that killed more than 100 people in July and August.
The vote sparked immediate anger on the Internet, with many pointing out that the 2008 referendum took place just days after Cyclone Nargis killed more than 140,000 people in Burma, which is also known as Myanmar.
— Chan (@mydaydream89) October 13, 2015
Other Burmese living abroad complained that they had already booked their air tickets home so they could place their votes, while many commentators immediately speculated that the proposal was politically, not logistically, motivated.
According to Burmese law, the election must take place between 30 and 90 days before the convening of parliament, which is scheduled for January 30, 2016.