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USAID Will Support Elections and Political Processes in Burma
March 12, 2013

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks in January at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy party.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a three-year program to support elections and political processes in Burma to help the country in the run-up to general elections slated for 2015.

The announcement came March 8 during USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s visit to Burma.

“Our new program will support the deepening of reforms in Burma, particularly the transition to a more democratic and inclusive political system,” Shah said. “The program is part of our commitment to supporting and accelerating democratic reforms to promote rule of law and human rights, transparent governance, and vibrant civil societies that reflect the country’s diversity.”

The announcement came during his meetings with senior government officials in Naypyitaw and Rangoon, including Ministers in the President’s Office Aung Min and Soe Thein, as well as Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament Shwe Mann. Shah also stressed the U.S. commitment to supporting the peace process and the importance of unhindered humanitarian access to vulnerable populations.

The $11 million program aims to help the government improve electoral administration to ensure free, fair, honest and credible elections in 2015; promote voter education; provide parliamentary strengthening assistance; and support political party development.

Key to the new program is civil society engagement, including a deliberate effort to strengthen the organizational capacity of local civil society organizations in their role as effective development partners in engaging with members of parliament, USAID said.

In separate meetings with the ministers of agriculture and health, Shah reinforced USAID’s commitment to working together and ensuring an inclusive approach to development that accounts for the will of the people. Shah discussed findings from a recent USAID-funded analysis of food-security issues and announced USAID’s recent accession to the membership of the 3MDG Fund focusing on maternal and child health.

Shah’s trip builds on the joint U.S.-Burma Partnership for Democracy, Peace and Prosperity that President Obama launched during his 2012 visit to the country. The partnership prioritizes development activities that promote inclusion, transparency, accountability and local empowerment.