Preparing to observe elections in conflict-affected Kachin

Myitkyina, Myanmar
30-31 October 2015

With Myanmar’s general elections a little over a week away, election observers in Kachin are busy preparing to monitor the historic polls in an area troubled by clashes between the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), ethnic militias, and the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military.

Despite the conflict, a coalition of CSOs in Kachin are expected to field around 100 election observers ahead of the vote. As part of it support to these partners, DRI organised a 2-day training on the legal framework for elections for 28 short-term observers (STOs). This included an introduction to the electoral-legal framework in Myanmar, the setup of polling stations, voting, counting, tabulation, and the role of observers and polling officers at each step in the process. Participants worked in groups and presented their work to others given many STOs are expected to replicate the training throughout Kachin.

The majority of participants were young, with an almost equal number of women and men participating in the training. STOs will observe remote polling stations and other stations inaccessible to international organisations, including stations in ethnically-dominated areas and conflict zones. The observation efforts are led by the Humanity Institute (HI), the Naushawng Education Network, Pyinnya Thagar, and Transparency & Accountability Network Kachin State.

This activity was part of a project called “Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy in Myanmar” or STEP to Democracy, funded and supported by the European Union.

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