World Bulletin / News Desk
Residents of Myanmar’s largest city Yangon voted for the first time in 60 years Saturday to elect part of their municipal government.
The Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), which oversees management of Yangon in areas including waste and road management and firefighting, held its vote for four Central Committee seats, as well as 12 district-level and 99 township-level positions.
Until now, positions within the YCDC have been fully appointed by Yangon’s unelected mayor, and most major positions within the organization will remain that way after the vote.
A total of 293 candidates, including former political prisoners, are fighting it out for the 115 available seats.
According to local news outlet The Irrawaddy, three polling stations in Insein Township in the city’s north had seen 148, 36 and 41 voters respectively, even though each station had 500 households eligible to vote. Other polling stations across the city saw a similarly low turnout, according to the report.
In total, 1,086 polling stations were set up across the city’s 33 townships and the results from each will be forwarded to City Hall. The results are expected to be announced within 48 hours of the vote closing.
After half a century of military rule, Myanmar’s leaders ushered in a nominally civilian government in 2010 when the Union Solidarity and Development Party won a majority in what was widely regarded as a rigged election. It was boycotted by the leading opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), and other parties as it was not deemed to be free and fair.
Myanmar’s last free and fair election was in 1990, following mass pro-democracy demonstrations. The NLD won by a landslide, but the ruling generals refused to give up power.
In 2012, by-elections were held for vacant seats in the country’s parliament, in which the NLD won nearly all of the vacant seats in both houses.
The announcement was made by Election Commission chairman, Tin Aye, although no specific date has yet been set.
Delivering his New Year message last week, President Thein Sein reiterated that the election would be free and fair, adding that it will “serve as one of the most critical steps in our democratic transition process.”
Last Mod: 07 Ocak 2015, 14:45