Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) expects to have won only seven of 13 seats up for grabs in by-elections, a spokesman said on Sunday, conceding that Myanmar’s ruling party needed to do more for voters from ethnic minorities. The polls, held on Saturday, will not alter the balance of power but were seen as an early test ahead of a general election in 2020. Nobel laureate Suu Kyi promised to make ending the country’s decades-old ethnic conflicts her government’s top priority, but peace talks have stalled and fighting has intensified.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won 77% of seats in Myanmar’s landmark polls this month, according to final results released by the election commission. Myanmar voted on November 8 but results took days to arrive in the capital from remote corners of the country, wending their way from villages in dense jungle and townships in several regions beset by active conflict. Election workers carried ballots by foot from some mountainous areas and then loaded them into helicopters that were used to transport the sealed boxes to the capital Naypyitaw where the official Union Election Commission would count them. So cut-off are some villages in northern Myanmar that their inhabitants have more contact with their Chinese neighbours than with the central government.
The party of democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi has won a majority in Myanmar’s parliament, the election commission said on Friday, giving it enough seats to elect its chosen candidate to the presidency when the new legislature convenes next year. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) had been expected take control of parliament since Sunday’s nationwide vote, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. President Barack Obama had already congratulated her on a landmark victory in the country’s first free election in 25 years. Obama and Ban also praised Myanmar President Thein Sein for successfully staging the historic poll, with the UN chief acknowledging his “courage and vision” to organise an election in which the ruling camp was trounced. Results have been trickling in since the weekend, and on Friday the election commission announced the latest batch of seats that pushed the NLD over the threshold to secure an absolute majority in parliament.
Myanmar President Thein Sein has congratulated opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy Party (NLD) for their apparent landslide victory in this week’s parliamentary elections over the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). An NLD spokesman says the message the party received Wednesday from Information Minister Ye Htut on behalf of Thein Sein included a promise that “the government will pursue a peaceful transfer” of power once the Union Election Commission has confirmed the NLD victory. The latest results from the country’s Union Election Commission show the NLD has claimed 273 seats in the lower house of parliament. The NLD is also far ahead in the upper chamber of parliament, winning 77 of the 83 seats announced so far.
International election observers endorsed Myanmar’s landmark election as credible, but warned that a transition of power would be limited despite what is shaping up to be a historic loss for the military-run government. As of Tuesday evening, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy had secured 107 seats in the 664-seat legislature, according to official results, with only seven for the army-linked incumbent party and a handful for smaller ethnic minority parties. Soe Thane, the economics minister in the cabinet of Myanmar President Thein Sein, also won a seat, though he was running as an independent rather than with his party. A final count isn’t expected for several more days.
Fresh results from Myanmar’s election on Tuesday showed the opposition taking control of most regional assemblies as well as forming the next government, handing democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi sweeping powers and reshaping the political landscape. The ruling party, which was created by the country’s former junta and is led by retired military officers, on Monday conceded defeat in an election that was a major milestone on Myanmar’s rocky path from dictatorship to democracy. But results dribbled out by the election commission have shown that their Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was not just beaten in the polls, it was trounced. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) said its own tally of results posted at polling stations around the country showed it was on track to take more than two-thirds of seats that were contested in parliament, enough to form Myanmar’s first democratically elected government since the early 1960s.
Myanmar’s ruling party conceded defeat in the country’s general election on Monday, as the opposition led by democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi appeared on course for a landslide victory that would ensure it can form the next government. “We lost,” Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) acting chairman Htay Oo told Reuters in an interview a day after the Southeast Asian country’s first free nationwide election in a quarter of a century. The election commission later began announcing constituency-by-constituency results from Sunday’s poll. All of the first 12 announced were won by Suu Kyi’s National League of Democracy (NLD).
Myanmar’s opposition NLD party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, says it is on track to win more than 70% of seats in the country’s historic election – a tally that could sweep it to power and end decades of military dominance. The National League for Democracy’s hopes of a decisive victory increased as Myanmar’s election commission began to release results from across the country. The NLD won all 32 out of the first 32 seats announced for Myanmar lower house, plus three out of four seats for the regional assemblies, prompting celebratory scenes among supporters outside party headquarters in Yangon. A total of 498 seats are being contested in the upper and lower houses of Myanmar’s parliament. More results are expected to be announced throughout Monday. “We will win a landslide,” Nyan Win, a party spokesman, told the Associated Press. Aung San Suu Kyi earlier hinted at victory in Myanmar’s first free elections for decades, despite an unexpected delay in the release of the results.
Among the voters braving long lines at polling places across Myanmar on Sunday, there was a sense of jubilation at taking part in what many described as the first genuine elections in their lives. “We’ve been suppressed for a very long time by the government,” said U Saan Maw, 63, who voted Sunday and made sure his friends and family did, too. “This is our chance for freedom.” After five decades of military rule and a series of rigged or canceled elections, Myanmar’s nationwide elections appeared to proceed without violence, raising hopes that the country’s five-year transition to democracy had reached another milestone. Though the official tally may not be known for days, early results on Monday showed the opposition, led by the Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, leading in Yangon, Mandalay and the capital, Naypyidaw. On Monday morning, the speaker of the lower house of Parliament, Thura Shwe Mann, conceded defeat to a member of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. He posted the message to his Facebook page. But in an overwhelmingly rural country, the elections will be won or lost in the countryside and those results are likely to be more slow in coming.
On Sunday, more than 30 million voters across Myanmar can cast their ballots in the country’s first relatively free elections in 25 years. The nationwide vote is a milestone in the Southeast Asian nation’s transformation from isolated military dictatorship to a more open society, seeking to attract foreign investment and tourists. Moreover, it will be a crucial test of the popularity of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel laureate and democracy icon who is believed to be the country’s most popular politician. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was held under house arrest for 15 years during military rule, hopes a strong victory at the polls could finally give her party political power even though she is barred from becoming president. Here is a brief guide to some of the ins and outs of the election.
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi joined more than 30 million Myanmar citizens voting Sunday in the nation’s most important election in 25 years. What comes next may test the military’s willingness to share power with the democracy campaigner who missed the past two national polls because she was under house arrest. Suu Kyi, who is barred by the constitution from becoming president, was greeted by hundreds of cheering supporters when she arrived to vote before 9 a.m. at a school in Yangon, the country’s biggest city. Dressed in red, the color of her National League for Democracy party, she emerged minutes later with a finger dyed by purple ink, before being ushered through a crush of reporters without making any comments.
More than 10,000 Buddhist monks and nuns rallied recently to celebrate Burma’s restrictive new race and religion laws, packing themselves into an indoor soccer stadium to cheer and chant nationalist slogans. The event, held last month in Burma’s commercial capital, was a dramatic display of a rising force in Burma’s political landscape — a group of ultra-nationalist Buddhists called the Ma Ba Tha, whom analysts say could pose a threat to the country’s shaky hopes for democracy. Voters in Burma, or Myanmar, head to the polls Sunday in a landmark election that is the first since the military junta eased their control and began democratic overhauls in 2010. Reliable polling is scarce, but Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s Nobel laureate, has been drawing large crowds as she campaigns across the country for her National League for Democracy party.
Election officials in Myanmar are still struggling to finalize the nationwide voter list as the nation heads to the polls on Sunday. The Union Election Commission (UEC) had initially announced it intended to release the final list on November 2. But the head of the Yangon Region Election Commission, Ko Ko, told VOA Burmese Tuesday the plan was delayed due to technical difficulties. He said hundreds of thousands of eligible voters have been added for the nation’s largest city. He added that the final list for the Yangon Region is expected to be posted later this week. “The total number in the previous list was 4,180,705 and the final voter list now tallies some 4,960,000, meaning that [the number of] eligible voters in the Yangon Region increased by about 800,000,” he said.
Myanmar’s first final, nationwide voter list was slated to go on public display yesterday, but after months of outraged political parties and voters calling election officials to task, most will have to wait at least another day to see the final roll. The Union Election Commission had initially planned on publicly posting the final list on November 2. The schedule was revised and extended to a last-minute, staggered release that would start at the local election office and progress to the township, state and Union level, where it would be combined and cross-checked. The relevant lists were also supposed to be posted at each polling station on November 6 and 7. Widespread voter list omissions, redundancies and inaccurate data plaguing the last two lists have proven a contentious and central obstacle in the coming election. While the final, corrected renditions were supposed to start rolling out yesterday, Myanmar Times reporters posted around the country found varying degrees to which local offices succeeded in meeting the deadline.
A United Nations rights investigator has questioned whether Myanmar’s elections in November can be considered free and fair because dozens of candidates had been disqualified and hundreds of thousands of people denied the right to vote. Yanghee Lee, UN special rapporteur on rights in Myanmar, said restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association – including arrests and excessive use of force against protesters – put genuine elections at risk. “The credibility of the elections will be judged by the environment in which they are conducted and the extent to which all sectors of Myanmar society have been allowed to freely participate in the political process,” Lee told a UN general assembly committee in a report on Wednesday.
Ballot problems and delays with advance voting for Myanmar overseas voters have raised concerns among citizens over the motives of authorities in charge of managing the polling process in the run-up to the nationwide elections early next month. Advance voting, which began last week, has been marred in one case by ballots being sent to the wrong embassy, by errors and omissions on the ballots themselves, and by incomplete voter lists and long waits to cast votes. About 35,000 Myanmar citizens are eligible for advance voting in 37 countries. Myanmar’s Union Election Commission (UEC), which is responsible for managing the voting, has acknowledged the problems with voter lists and ballots at home and abroad and has vowed to ensure successful nationwide elections on Nov. 8. Although the UEC has rescheduled advance voting past the Friday cutoff in foreign countries where problems have occurred, it has yet to rectify the situation at home.
When Myanmar votes next month in what has been billed as its first free and fair election in 25 years, Tun Lin, and around 4 million of his fellow citizens, won’t be taking part. Most, like the 33-year-old fisherman, are working overseas and have been unable to register, but voter lists riddled with errors and the cancellation of polling in areas affected by ethnic violence could also dent the credibility of the election. “I think that the government is not doing what it needs to do to make sure that all Burmese citizens are able to vote everywhere they are,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division. “These people are largely going to be disenfranchised because the system doesn’t encourage their participation.”
Citizens are clearly anxious to have a say in their country’s future, yet the legitimacy of the historic election on November 8 is already under threat. It’s clear that Myanmar authorities need to make quick and crucial adjustments to electoral procedures in the wake of problems that marred advance polls held last weekend outside the country. Many of its citizens were turned away as “unqualified” to cast ballots, a worrying situation with the general election coming up on November 8. This is an election that is widely expected to alter Myanmar’s political landscape significantly. Questions of polling legitimacy are to be avoided at all costs.
Myanmar Embassy officials in Singapore have extended early voting there through at least Wednesday amid criticism of alleged voting manipulation at Myanmar embassies in various countries. Officials on Sunday had told potential voters in Singapore – some camping overnight on sidewalks – that only the first 3,000 in line would be able to cast ballots. Some 20,000 Myanmar nationals in Singapore had requested to vote in advance of their country’s November 8 general election. Myanmar embassies in various countries, including Singapore and Thailand, have faced a backlash of angry voters complaining about delays and being denied the right to cast ballots. Thailand is home to an estimated several million Myanmar citizens but less than 700 were deemed eligible to cast ballots – and a number of those faced difficulties when they actually went to the embassy in Bangkok to vote.
Election fever is palpable on the crumbling streets of Rangoon, Burma’s biggest city and colonial-era capital. Caravans of National League for Democracy (NLD) supporters tour the streets daily on rickshaws and converted pickup trucks, festooned with the party’s iconic red bunting and fighting peacock motif. Posters are flourished of the NLD’s talismanic leader, and Nobel laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi. Yet a deep anxiety undercuts the electoral exuberance in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation, which is officially now known as Myanmar. It is poised to escape a half-century of military dictatorship, but many fear the rug will be pulled from under at any moment — illustrated by the fatalistic reaction to Tuesday’s announcement by the Union Election Commission (UEC) that the long-awaited polls may be postponed because of widespread flooding and landslides.
Myanmar’s election commission has announced the country’s historic election will continue as planned, after brief talk of a possible delay. The commission had consulted Myanmar’s political parties on the possibility of postponing the poll because of the impact of flooding and landslides. A delay seemed likely, but later on Tuesday the commission said it would go ahead on 8 November as planned. The poll is set to be the first openly contested general election in 25 years.
A proposal to postpone elections in Myanmar caused an outcry among democratic forces on Tuesday, and the government then issued a public reassurance that the voting would take place as scheduled on Nov. 8. The fear and confusion over a possible delay reflected the democracy movement’s underlying mistrust of the military establishment, including the bureaucracy and the government of President Thein Sein. Early on Tuesday, U Tin Aye, a former soldier who represented the governing party before taking his current post as leader of the election commission, summoned representatives of the political parties and proposed a postponement on the grounds that some areas of the country struck by flooding in July and August might not be ready to accommodate voters by the time of the election.
Myanmar’s election commission held a meeting on Tuesday with major political parties to discuss the postponement of a historic election set for Nov 8 due to flooding, a government official and a politician present at the meeting told Reuters. Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy is expected to win the poll, which marks a major shift in Myanmar’s political landscape, giving the platform to democracy activists shut out of public life during nearly half a century of strict military rule that ended in 2011. The election commission invited 10 parties to the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, on Tuesday morning and asked them whether they wanted to postpone the election due to the worst floods to hit the country in decades.
Myanmar on Tuesday cancelled voting across parts of its conflict-scarred north, as hopes receded for a nationwide ceasefire before historic polls in November. Election officials said they were “not capable” of holding the vote in areas of northern Shan and Kachin states bordering China because of ongoing fighting. The move had been anticipated and mainly affects areas battered by war or beyond the government’s writ, in a country where several ethnic minority armies still resist control by the state.
The European Union has deployed 30 long-term election observers to join its core team already in Myanmar to monitor the country’s upcoming general election scheduled for Nov. 8, an official report said Monday. The long-term observers will cover all regions, states and territories in both urban and rural areas and will observe the entire electoral process prior, during and after the election. They will be also joined by another 62 short-term observers and a delegation of the European Parliament shortly before the election, so that a total of 150 observers from all the 28 EU member states as well as Norway, Switzerland and Canada will be deployed on the election day along with EU diplomats.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s opposition leader, has said she plans to lead the country if her party triumphs in forthcoming parliamentary elections despite a ban on her serving as president, indicating there will be a fierce post-poll battle with the country’s entrenched military rulers. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), is expected to win the polls, but Aung San Suu Kyi, who received the Nobel peace prize in 1991, is barred from the presidency due to a constitutional provision that excludes those with foreign children from the office. Her late husband was British and she has two British sons and the clause was specifically aimed at denying her the post. “If the NLD wins the elections and we form a government, I am going to be the leader of that government whether or not I am the president. Why not?” she said in an interview with prominent Indian journalist Karan Thapar to be broadcast by the India Today TV network on wednesday. “Do you have to be president in order to lead a country?”
With just over a month until Myanmar’s landmark elections, there are rising concerns over the use of religion to stoke fears and marginalize minorities. On Sunday, thousands of monks and supporters of a nationalist Myanmar Buddhist group held a rally in Yangon celebrating “victory” in the passing of four controversial race and religion laws. The Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion, better known by its Myanmar acronym Ma Ba Tha, has held events in almost all of Myanmar’s 14 states and regions in recent weeks to celebrate parliament’s passing of the bills, with the support of the military-backed ruling party.
Shortly after the two-month campaign season leading up to Myanmar’s much-awaited national elections started, the Union Election Commission (UEC) announced on September 11 that 124 candidates did not pass scrutiny and would be barred from running for office. Many were opposition and minority members and an estimated one-third were Muslim candidates, raising serious questions over bias in the review process and the exclusion of Muslims from the political process. Though 11 candidates were eventually allowed to rejoin the race after appealing, the current legal framework and a lack of transparency about the decision-making and appeal process could negatively impact the UEC’s credibility as an impartial arbiter in the election process. The November 8 elections will set the tone for Myanmar’s continued democratic development in the near-term and are widely expected to be competitive, with more than 90 political parties and more than 6,100 candidates competing for office in 1,171 constituencies. Fifty-nine of these political parties are linked to minority ethnic groups and religious groups, and one—the Women’s Party (Mon)—consists entirely of women. Though the plethora of political parties ought to be fairly representative of Myanmar’s population, it is notable that Muslims—who make up at least 4 percent of Myanmar’s total population—were under-represented. Growing intolerance and accusation from extremist Buddhists that the major opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) is anti-Buddhist kept the NLD from nominating even one Muslim candidate, while the USDP dropped some of its more outspoken Muslim candidates.
As the third week of election campaigning kicks off, an international monitoring group is already raising alarm over the credibility of the elections. In a statement, the U.S.-based Carter Center questioned the legitimacy of the candidate scrutiny process that scrubbed more than 100 election hopefuls from the final list. Though the Union Election Commission reinstated 11 Muslim nominees just before the Carter Center released its findings on September 25, 75 candidates continue to be barred from the polls, largely due to the alleged citizenship status of their parents. “Although the number of disqualified candidates is relatively small, restrictive requirements, selective enforcement, and a lack of procedural safeguards call into question the credibility of the process,” the report stated.
The EU said Tuesday it will for the first time deploy observers in Myanmar’s upcoming elections when the opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to make significant gains against the military-dominated government. National League for Democracy chairwoman Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech during a voter education campaign in Shan State on Sept 5, 2015. “The mission confirms the European Union’s continued commitment to the democratic transition of Myanmar,” EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini said in a statement. “Elections held in a peaceful and inclusive environment will help to consolidate irreversible reforms in the country,” Mogherini said.