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.
In three days, Myanmar will hold its first democratic national election in 25 years — a historic moment for a country that has transformed itself from a military dictatorship, isolated from the West, to a quasi-civilian government embraced by the Obama administration for its progress toward democracy. Along the way, the government wrote a new constitution, freed more than 1,000 political prisoners and released opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, from years of house arrest. In a much smaller by-election in 2012, she won a seat in parliament. But this is not a truly free and fair vote. Of the 664 seats in parliament, a quarter are reserved for military officials. The constitution also states that no president may have a spouse or children who are foreign citizens, a provision widely considered to be aimed at preventing Suu Kyi from becoming president. She is the widow of a British national and has two sons with foreign passports. If her party were to win a majority, she could not be chosen as president. (The president is selected by the parliament.)
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.
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.”
Are Myanmar’s highly anticipated general elections, widely touted as “historic” by diplomats, pundits and media, doomed to fail just like previous polls? A surprise proposal floated this week by the military-appointed Union Election Commission (UEC) to postpone the November 8 polls has raised troubling questions about the military-backed quasi-civilian government’s commitment to the electoral process and rang alarm bells in Western capitals invested in a successful democratic transition through the ballot box. On October 13, UEC chairman and 45-year military veteran Tin Aye suggested in a meeting with political parties that the polls be delayed, either nationwide or in select constituencies, due to monsoon rain-induced flooding and landslides. The UEC then backed away from the proposal amid strong resistance from the Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition, the main challenger to the ruling military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The USDP’s position on the proposal to delay the vote was not immediately clear.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
Myanmar authorities will appoint 40,000 ordinary citizens as “special election police” ahead of November’s polls to boost security at polling stations, an official said Friday, amid concerns over the exact role they will play. The move comes as countries including the United States and Japan have expressed alarm that rising religious tensions could spark conflict in the former junta-ruled nation as election campaigning enters full swing. “We will appoint more than 40,000 people as special election police for one month starting from mid-October’,” a senior Naypyidaw-based police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. They will be unarmed and wield fewer powers than official police, he added, without elaborating on the extent of their remit other than “reinforcing” security and providing “early warnings” of any troubles brewing during the November 8 polls.
The United States, Japan and other major powers on Tuesday raised fears that rising religious tensions in Myanmar could spark “division and conflict” as campaigning begins for historic elections. Myanmar goes to the polls on November 8 in what many hope will be its freest vote in generations after decades of army rule, with Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party widely tipped to make huge gains. But religious tensions are spiking in the Buddhist-majority country, which has seen sporadic outbursts of often deadly religious unrest in recent years, with minority Muslims facing increasing political exclusion as the influence of nationalist monks grows.
Every Tuesday, the moss-covered redbrick courthouse in Tharrawaddy erupts into activity for a weekly ritual: the mass trial of student protesters. Under heavy guard at a session in late August, 81 students faced charges related to protests that were crushed by baton-wielding police in March. They are among a growing number of people caught in a crackdown on dissent as Myanmar heads towards a historic election in November, when the military-backed ruling party will compete with the ascendant National League for Democracy (NLD) party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in the first free national vote in 25 years.
Myanmar’s electoral process had a dramatic, if shaky, start when President Thein Sein — with the support of the military — forcibly ousted parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann from the leadership of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, and moved his own loyal officials into place. While the president took a back seat during that tense evening at USDP headquarters in mid-August, the move sent a strong signal that military leaders intended to retain control of the pace and direction of democratic change — and were unhappy about the ambitious speaker’s challenges to their authority. The president and his military commander say they remain committed to holding a free and fair election. That should not be surprising.
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.
With a smile, Myanmar’s most notorious monk boasts of the sleepless nights he endures on his self-appointed quest against the country’s Muslims – one that he claims has helped strip voting rights from hundreds of thousands of the religious minority. Wirathu, whose anti-Muslim campaign has stoked religious tensions in the Buddhist-majority nation, said he spends most nights at his tranquil Mandalay monastery glued to his computer screen, streaming images from some of the world’s most violent Islamic terrorist organizations. He then posts messages to his 91,000 Facebook followers, helping foment the idea that Buddhism is under threat. “Many days I don’t sleep at all,” the monk, who goes by one name, told AFP, adding his work is so arduous that he lacks the time enjoyed by President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to “have family meals and put on make-up.” Myanmar’s Muslims, who make up at least 5 percent of the 51-million population, have a long history of involvement in public life. But they have faced increasing marginalization under the current quasi-civilian government that replaced junta rule in 2011.
Burma’s parliamentary election Nov. 8 should have been a moment to anticipate with joy: another step in the nation’s emergence from military rule. But democracy is not strictly about the ballot box. It is also about the process — the nature of the competition for power, and whether that political struggle is free, fair and inclusive of all. By this measure, Burma is falling short. Some of the problems are long-standing. Twenty-five percent of parliament seats are reserved for unelected members of the military. The country’s most popular figure, Aung San Suu Kyi, is barred from running for president by a provision in the constitution, written with her in mind, that the military and its allies recently refused to alter
Myanmar’s powerful commander-in-chief has reiterated that the military will respect the outcome of the country’s Nov 8 election, seen as a crucial test of Myanmar’s reform process. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said that the main concern of the armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, is that the vote is carried out fairly and that the result is respected by everyone – even if Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) wins a majority. “We wouldn’t mind even if the NLD won in the next general election, as long as it is free and fair,” he told members of the Myanmar’s Interim Press Council, a media support group, during a meeting on Monday.
Long Tway village is a long way from anywhere. The nearest city, Taunggyi, is a rough three-hour drive to the west of this small settlement of about 30 households, sitting high in a steep valley amid the vast Shan Hills in eastern Myanmar. In lowland areas of the country and the urban centers, anticipation is rising ahead of elections scheduled for Nov. 8. More than 6,000 candidates have applied to take part in the elections, and campaigning is likely to involve large-scale rallies and poster campaigns. But here in the hills, people have only a vague knowledge of the polls. “No one came here to tell us about the election,” local woman Nan Yon, 44, told ucanews.com recently. She had heard an election was coming, she said, but was surprised to learn that the vote was only months away.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi expressed concern Thursday that massive flooding in much of the country might be used as a pretext to undermine November’s general election. In a video appealing to the international community to help flood victims, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate drew a parallel with a referendum, carried out under military rule in 2008, that brought in the current much-maligned constitution. The voting took place during widespread chaos following Cyclone Nargis, which killed an estimated 140,000 people. According to the official results, the charter was overwhelmingly confirmed, but many reports cast doubt on the fairness of the vote and the results. The constitution was drafted under military supervision and enshrines its dominance in government, making substantial democratic reforms difficult to achieve.
The party of Aung San Suu Kyi has rejected bids by 17 members of Myanmar’s respected “88 generation” to join its ranks and contest November’s election, a controversial omission of a group that was expected to galvanise its bid to dominate the ballot. The National League for Democracy (NLD) party selected only one member of the popular crop of activists, who suffered years of persecution after leading nationwide student protests in 1988 that were brutally crushed by the ruling military. Their rebellion mushroomed into a pro-democracy uprising that thrust Suu Kyi, the daughter of late independence hero Aung San, into Myanmar’s political spotlight.