CEPPS Partners Meet with Myanmar’s Speaker of Parliament
On May 1, 2015, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) – which together compose the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS) – met with Thura U Shwe Mann, Speaker of Myanmar’s lower house of Parliament (Phyithu Hlutaw), to discuss Myanmar’s democratic progress. The meeting was hosted at NDI’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. and was also attended by 14 Myanmar parliamentarians and officials, including U Kyaw Myo Htut, Myanmar’s Ambassador to the U.S.
The meeting commenced with introductions and greetings from IFES President and CEO Bill Sweeney, NDI President Kenneth Wollack and IRI President Mark Green. In his remarks, President Sweeney welcomed Shwe Mann to the United States and highlighted IFES’ efforts to support the electoral process in Myanmar, which include providing technical advice and assistance to the Union Election Commission (UEC) and civil society.
Following opening remarks from the CEPPS Presidents, Shwe Mann thanked CEPPS for its support to the political reform process in Myanmar. He then turned the discussion to Myanmar’s upcoming elections – the meeting’s main topic of discussion.
The 2015 elections, expected to be held in early November, will represent a critical test for Myanmar’s democratic progress. In these elections, Myanmar voters will cast ballots to determine representatives for the national Parliament and Assemblies in the country’s 14 states and regions; those elected to the national Parliament will be charged with selecting Myanmar’s next President. These will be the first national polls since Myanmar begin implementing a range of social and political reforms in 2011.
Shwe Mann discussed Myanmar’s efforts to hold free and fair elections in 2015, referencing the recently-adopted code of conduct for election observers and the voter list update process – both of which IFES has been supporting through its programming. He also acknowledged that political and electoral reform will not be fully accomplished prior to the elections, and said that he hoped the CEPPS partners would continue to assist the reform process after the elections.
In Myanmar, IFES, NDI and IRI support the political and electoral process under the “Elections and Political Processes Assistance”program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. IFES also supports Myanmar’s electoral process under the “Support to the Electoral Process in Myanmar”program funded by the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the UK Department for International Development and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.