Myanmar ruling party defeated
Naypyitaw/Hinthada, Nov 9
Myanmar’s ruling party conceded defeat in a general election today 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 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 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 yesterday’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.
“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.
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.”
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.
The military-drafted constitution guarantees one-quarter of parliament’s seats to unelected members of the armed forces and allows the commander-in-chief to nominate the head of three powerful ministries, interior, defence and border security.
The charter also gives the armed forces the right to take over government under certain circumstances. The military maintains a grip on the economy through holding companies.
Even if the NLD gets the majority it needs, Suu Kyi is barred from taking the presidency herself under the constitution written by the junta to preserve its power.
Suu Kyi has said she would be the power behind the new president regardless of a charter she has derided as “very silly”.