Suu Kyi heads for landslide victory in Myanmar polls

0
66

Myanmar’s ruling party conceded defeat in a general election on Monday as the opposition led by democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi appeared on course for a landslide victory that could ensure it forms the next government.

“We lost,” Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) acting chairman Htay Oo told Reuters a day after the Southeast Asian country’s first free nationwide election in a quarter of a century.

By late afternoon, vendors outside the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Yangon were selling red T-shirts with Suu Kyi’s face and the words “We won”.

The election commission later began announcing constituency-by-constituency results from Sunday’s poll. All of the first 12 parliamentary seats announced were won by Suu Kyi’s party.

The keenly watched vote was Myanmar’s first general election since its long-ruling military ceded power to President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government in 2011, ushering in a period of reform and opening up to foreign investment.

The NLD said its own tally of results posted at polling stations around the country showed it was on track to win more than 70 percent of the seats being contested in parliament, above the two-thirds threshold it needs to form Myanmar’s first democratically elected government since the early 1960s.

US concerned by ‘far from perfect’ Myanmar vote:

“They must accept the results, even though they don’t want to,” NLD spokesman Win Htein told Reuters, adding that in the highly populated central region the Nobel peace laureate’s party looked set to win more than 90 percent of seats.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the party’s own estimates of its performance. Earlier, a smiling Suu Kyi appeared on the balcony of the NLD’s headquarters and in a brief address urged supporters to be patient and wait for the official results.

Traffic squeezed at a walking pace through a fast-gathering crowd outside the NLD office after the first results were announced.

They listened to songs and watched a Suu Kyi video on a big screen hung from the building, though many huddled under umbrellas as torrential rain dampened the mood.

I’m very happy about the result,” said Hnin Si, 60, a trader in Yangon. “The people have suffered for 50 years. I believe Aung San Suu Kyi will make the country a better place.”

Democratic journey:

The election was a landmark in the country’s unsteady journey to democracy from the military dictatorship that made the former Burma a pariah state for so long.

It is also a moment that Suu Kyi will relish after spending years under house arrest following the country’s 1990 election, when the NLD won a landslide victory that was ignored by the junta.

This time the ruling party, created by the former junta and led by retired military officers, and the chief of the armed forces have pledged to respect the result.

But although the election appears to have dealt a decisive defeat to the USDP, a period of uncertainty still looms over the country because it is not clear how Suu Kyi will share power easily with the still-dominant military.