YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar’s general election will go ahead as scheduled on Nov. 8, according to an announcement on state-run television on Tuesday night.
Earlier, the country’s main political parties and election commission had discussed postponing the ballot less than a month before it was due be held, owing to disruptions to preparations caused by widespread flooding.
“After taking into consideration the discussions of the Central Mediation Committee about the possible consequences of postponing the general election, the Union Election Commission decided not to postpone the general election but to hold it on November 8 as scheduled originally,” said the announcement read out on state-run MRTV.
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) is expected to do well in the vote, a milestone in the country’s transition from a military dictatorship to democracy.
The election commission invited 10 parties to the capital Naypyitaw on Tuesday morning and asked them whether they wanted to postpone the election because of the floods, a government official and two politicians who attended the meeting said.
The NLD opposed the move, while the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was in favor of a postponement, the three said. There was an exchange of views but no voting on the matter, the two politicians added.
Win Htein, a senior member of the NLD present at the meeting, said the floods were insufficient reason to delay the landmark vote. Parts of western Myanmar, including the impoverished Chin state, were devastated by the disaster.
“This is a false excuse, the disasters in Chin and flooding are quite negotiable,” said Win Htein.
More than 100 people have been killed and over 1 million “critically affected” by the flooding in recent months, according to the government and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
It is the worst natural disaster in Myanmar since Cyclone Nargis killed nearly 140,000 people in May 2008.
The election follows a period of reform and opening up to investment in the former pariah state, after the junta ceded power to a quasi-civilian government in 2011.
Apart from the USDP, two smaller parties, the National Development Party, led by a former presidential adviser, Nay Zin Latt, and the Myanmar Farmers’ Development Party, also spoke in favor of postponing the vote, the people present said.
The NLD was the only party to oppose the move, while the remaining three, the Arakan National Party, National Unity Party and National Democratic Force did not come down on either side.
Additional reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Simon Webb, Alex Richardson and Mike Collett-White