Switzerland to play mediator in Myanmar’s elections. Myanmar’s parties sign election code of conduct
Over the weekend, Myanmar’s political parties signed a code of conduct for peaceful elections and a fair election campaign in view of the parliamentary elections scheduled for November. Switzerland acted as a mediator between the parties (as a so-called facilitator) and thus formed the basis for the code to be drawn up. Among the signatories of the code are the majority of the 97 political parties, including the ruling party “National League for Democracy”, and various ethnic parties.
At the request of the parties and the Electoral Commission, Switzerland has spent the past eight months creating the conditions for negotiations on a revised code of conduct. It contains rules for peaceful elections and free competition to which parties and election candidates voluntarily commit themselves. In addition, the code contains principles for protection regarding attacks on candidates’ private lives and against hate speech, including on social media. Other provisions concern the misuse of state resources and the renunciation of the use of religion for election campaign purposes.
The ceremony in Yangon took place in presence of the majority of the 97 political parties, the chairman of the election commission, Switzerland as facilitator and the international community. By signing the code of conduct, the parties reaffirm their will to conduct a fair and non-violent election campaign. Switzerland will also support the implementation of the code. Already in 2015, Switzerland had also facilitated the negotiations on a code of conduct between the parties.
Since the end of military rule in 2011, Switzerland has been supporting peace negotiations between the various ethnic groups, the government and the military and has been encouraging the state’s efforts towards democracy. This year’s elections, the third since 2011, represent a central stage in this transition. With around 30 million voters and 97 political parties, the elections pose a major political and logistical challenge for the country.