Secretary of the former ruling party U Kyaw Kyaw Htay said yesterday that the Union Election Commission is failing to cooperate with the media. The criticism was levelled at the election staging body during a meeting between the UEC and political parties in Nay Pyi Taw.

U Kyaw Kyaw Htay suggested that cooperation between the UEC and the media needs to be stellar.

Continuing the tirade, he also criticised the way UEC is planning to demarcate constituencies in the 2020, claiming that area is more important to consider than population rate.

He said that the polls are not open long enough on Election Day and called for a change to the voting system.

“The number of voters per poll station is in the thousands,” he told reporters during a break in the meeting. “I think voters should get one to two hours more on Election Day.”

The Union Solidarity and Development Party will cooperate with the UEC to achieve a successful by-election next year and a successful general election in 2020, U Kyaw Kyaw Htay said.

The once-ruling party was thoroughly trounced by its opposition the National League for Democracy in last year’s election.

The upcoming 2017 by-election is meant to fill vacancies that have arisen in the middle of the term. There are 18 empty seats, and USDP plans to run for all of them, U Kyaw Kyaw Htay said, but the party has not yet selected its line-up of candidates.

Federal Union Party chair Sao Thar Oo also called on the UEC yesterday to reconsider some of its election staging methods. “In some cases, the commission needs to make changes to bring the system into accordance with the constitution,” he said.

The UEC was hit with criticism last year largely over widespread errors on the voter lists, but also fuelled anger among international monitors for upholding the decision to revoke the candidacy of dozens of Muslim contestants.

Yesterday, delegates from 65 political parties, including the now-ruling National League for Democracy, discussed electoral affairs at the event.

National Unity Party chair U Han Shwe said that the commission needs to work together with political parties, the media and civil society organisations in the run-up to the by-election.

UEC chair U Hla Thein said that the commission plans to hold the by-election in three months, on April 1, 2017.

Nine seats in the Pyithu Hluttaw, three seats in the Amyotha Hluttaw, and six seats in Myanmar’s state and region legislatures will be up for grabs next year, with those constituencies currently lacking legislative representation.

Candidates hoping to vie for a seat must register with the UEC between November 28 and December 7.