Myanmar elections to take place as scheduled on Nov 8 – state TV

A man walks in front of a National League for Democracy (NLD) campaign poster with images of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party's candidates, at a downtown area in Yangon, Myanmar, on Oct 13, 2015.
A man walks in front of a National League for Democracy (NLD) campaign poster with images of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party's candidates, at a downtown area in Yangon, Myanmar, on Oct 13, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

 YANGON (Reuters, AFP) – Myanmar’s elections will take place as scheduled on Nov 8, state television reported on Tuesday (Oct 13).  Earlier, 
Myanmar’s election commission held a meeting with major political parties to discuss the possible postponement of the election due to flooding, a government official and a politician present at the meeting told Reuters.

A spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy had said the idea was raised at a meeting with political parties in the capital Naypyidaw.

"They asked what we thought about postponing the election," said Win Htein, a spokesman for the NLD, which is forecast to make major gains in the polls - the first nationwide vote it has contested in a quarter century.

News of the meeting sent ripples of alarm through the former junta-run nation where election fever is in full swing.

Any attempt to stall the much-anticipated vote would be a major upset in the strife-torn nation whose gradual emergence from junta rule has been welcomed by the West.

Win Htein did not give a reason for the Union Election Commission's suggestion to postpone the vote.

But he said the NLD and Suu Kyi vehemently opposed it while the ruling party was supportive.

The UEC was not immediately available to comment.

- Decades of conflict -

Election rules mean the authorities can postpone polls in constituencies affected by natural disaster or unrest.

Myanmar is still recovering from massive floods over the summer that damaged infrastructure across the country, but they were not previously thought to threaten the date of the polls.

In 2008 army-backed national referendum was held just days after parts of the nation were devastated by Cyclone Nargis which killed around 138,000 people.

Officials earlier Tuesday said they had cancelled voting in swathes of northern Shan and Kachin states bordering China because of ongoing fighting with ethnic rebels.

"Some village areas have security restrictions and we have security concerns about those. Others are in the control of Kachin (rebels) where we are not capable of holding elections," Tun Aung Khaing, a senior election official in Kachin State, told AFP.

That move had been anticipated and mainly affects areas battered by war or beyond the government's writ, in a country where several ethnic minority armies still resist state control.

It comes as Myanmar prepares to sign a limited ceasefire on October 15 as it tries to end decades of civil war.

A ceasefire between the army and Kachin rebels collapsed in 2011 under a new quasi-civilian government.

- Democracy fight -

Myanmar's November polls are set to crown four years of unprecedented opennesses in a nation driven into poverty and isolation by nearly half a century of repressive military rule.

There have been increasing fears that reforms are stalling in recent months.

Parties are already taking to the streets to drum up support and Suu Kyi has held large rallies across the country attended by crowds of flag-waving supporters.

Suu Kyi rose to prominence after mass protests against the military in 1988 that were suppressed in a bloody crackdown by the army.

The NLD won elections in 1990 but the military rejected the results and repeatedly put Suu Kyi under house arrest until after 2010 polls.

The army-backed ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party swept those elections, unopposed by the NLD.

Nobel laureate Suu Kyi is forbidden from seeking the presidency under rules barring the post to a person who married and had children with a foreigner.