6 Nov 2015

NZ politicians to monitor Myanmar election

3:45 pm on 6 November 2015

Two New Zealand politicians will be arriving in Myanmar today to officiate its general election next week.

David Shearer (left) and Mark Mitchell will be arriving in Myanmar today.

David Shearer (left) and Mark Mitchell will be arriving in Myanmar today. Photo: Supplied

Labour MP David Shearer and National Rodney MP Mark Mitchell are among the first Western poll observers to be called into the south-east Asian country in at least 65 years.

Former National MP Wyatt Creech will also be on the trip, funded by the government as part of its aid programme.

There will also be a contingent from Australian and the European Union in Myanmar monitoring the election.

The elections will be Myanmar's first openly contested polls in 25 years.

More than 90 parties are standing in the first national elections since a nominally civilian government took power in the country, also known as Burma, in 2011.

Democracy in Myanmar was not perfect, but was a huge improvement from where it had been, Mr Shearer said.

"I would imagine there's a lot of excitement... I'm certainly excited to see what is going to be an historic occasion.

"Apart from the outcome of a democratic parliament, it's part of an ongoing process ... to free up society."

Mr Shearer would be going to several polling booths to observe and make sure the election is free and fair, he said.

"So I'll be out of the main urban areas and checking closely for anything out of the ordinary."

Each member of the overseas contingent would have a checklist to work through, and would then provide an overview in a debrief session the day after the election.

On the basis of those results, Myanmar officials would determine the success of the election.

The opposition party National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, is widely expected to do well in the election, but Ms Suu Kyi is banned from taking the role of president by the constitution.

She said she would be "above the president" if her party won Sunday's election.


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