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Myanmar vote could be delayed, say officials and parties

35Next month’s historic general election in Myanmar could be delayed, electoral officials and political parties say.
A spokesman for the National League for Democracy told the BBC that parties met officials on Tuesday to discuss postponing the 8 November poll.
The head of the election commission confirmed voting might be delayed because of “landslides and flooding”, but gave no further details.
The poll is set to be the first openly contested general election in 25 years.
Senior NLD member Win Htein said: “I think they’ll surely postpone the election. We expected this – I think they’re doing this because our campaign is gaining momentum and we have a good chance to win this election.”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Aung San Suu Kyi cannot become president due to a provision in the military-drafted constitution
Last week NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi said she planned to lead the government if her party won – even though she is constitutionally barred from the presidency. Myanmar, also known as Burma, has no prime minister’s post.
Win Htein said the NLD had been the only party present at Tuesday’s meeting to oppose the move to postpone the vote.
The ruling, military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) is believed to favour a delay, Reuters news agency reported.
Analysis: Jonah Fisher, BBC News, Yangon
Some parts of Myanmar have been devastated by floods and landslides. Chin and Sagaing were particularly badly hit in August and in the last week 17 people died in landslides in Kayah State.
But most of the damage occurred two months ago – elections could still take place in most of the country, and there’s clear provision for that under Burmese electoral law.
Article 10F allows for the cancellation or postponement of votes in individual constituencies due to “natural disasters” or “regional security”. It does not state that the Union Election Commission has the right to enforce a nationwide postponement.
So delaying the election nationwide would be a political rather than logistical decision.
The NLD think the USDP is running scared. Perhaps its leaders have been shocked at the energy with which the NLD has tackled the first month of the election campaign. President Thein Sein may also want more time to put his house in order.
In August the USDP underwent a “soft coup” with chairman Shwe Mann ousted and his package of reform minded policies thrown out. This being Myanmar there’s no shortage of conspiracy theories.
Election Commission Chairman Tin Aye did not make clear whether polls might be delayed across the country or just in parts hit by bad weather in the west and north-west.
“Why don’t you… just wait until the statement is released, it could be nationwide too,” he told reporters, the Associated Press reported.
Image copyright AP Image caption Many areas were badly hit by the floods – but most of the damage was two months ago
Clarification and a possible new election date might come in a statement in the next day or two, he added.
The NLD last took part in a national election in 1990, winning a landslide. But the result was ignored by the military, which kept Ms Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years.
The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party swept the 2010 polls, which were boycotted by the NLD, who alleged widespread fraud.