The Ward or Village Tract Administration Law promulgated in 2012 in Myanmar, while an improvement on previous ad hoc, unclear regulations and authoritarian practices stemming from colonial-era legislation, it continues to fall short of basic standards for democratic elections and contains problematic sections that risks undermining participatory governance, democratic principles and accountability. Furthermore, the law is a powerful tool for administrative control for the military-controlled Ministry of Home Affairs, which oversees the General Administration Department (GAD) that employs Ward and Village Tract Administrators.
These elections of Ward/Village Tract Administrators are important, as the Ward or Village Tract Administration Law is the main link between communities and the state, increasingly play a key role in local development as it constitutes the most local level of the administration and is also supposed to represent citizens’ interests. The local elections are also important as they form an indispensable part of Myanmar’s transition to democracy, are one of the ways in which ordinary citizens can exercise their democratic rights – and are crucial to the development of active citizenship and good governance.
Without further amendments, the law risks at best being a limited improvement over the past – and the administrative elections the law mandates could become a bureaucratic exercise that lacks clarity. At worst, the elections risk becoming a decorative form of local level democracy not fully reflecting the people’s voices, particularly by restricting the voting rights of women and youth and other disenfranchised minorities. While civil society has successfully advocated for amendments to this law, and certain sections have been amended, more needs to be done. As this briefing paper outlines, Parliament must continue to review and amend problematic sections of the Ward or Village Tract Administration Law in order to promote local-level democracy, participation and equality of voting rights of all people, thus embedding the democratic process at the grassroots level.
Download full briefing paper in English HERE.
စာတမ္းတုိ ျမန္မာဘာသာကုိ ဤေနရာတြင္ ရယူႏုိင္သည္။