Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will take her election battle straight to one of the president’s closest allies when campaigning gets under way this week for the first free general election since the end of military rule. Nobel laureate Suu Kyi will meet her supporters on Thursday in the region where powerful Minister of the President’s Office Soe Thein, the architect of President Thein Sein’s economic reforms, is running for a seat in the Nov. 8 election. Her appearance is a gesture of confidence that her National League for Democracy (NLD) can defeat the president’s closest supporters and their ruling, army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The campaign officially begins on Tuesday.
The NLD is expected to win the historic poll, which marks a major shift in Myanmar’s political landscape, giving the platform to democratic activists shut out of public life during nearly half a century of strict military rule that ended in 2011.
Since then, the country’s semi-civilian government has implemented reforms, released hundreds of political prisoners and opened Myanmar to investment.
“The elections are poised to be the most credible since the 1950s and that’s significant,” said Richard Horsey, an independent political analyst and a former U.N. official in Myanmar. “If the NLD, as expected, becomes the largest party, there will be huge expectations that would be difficult for any party to meet,” he said.