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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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’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.
At least half-a-dozen independent and opposition party candidates have so far been disqualified, mainly after the citizenship of their parents was called into question. The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, meanwhile, said as of yesterday evening it had not dropped a single contestant. In the 2010 election, the government was accused by election monitors of skewing the scrutinising process in favour of eliminating opposition candidates in areas anticipated to be hotly contested. Muslim parties in restive Rakhine State are especially worried about this year’s process, after a sitting Muslim MP was cut from the candidate list last week. U Shwe Maung was rejected from the ruling party after serving as a Pyithu Hluttaw representative for Buthidaung for five years.
Myanmar President Thein Sein has moved to consolidate his power in the country’s ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) by forcing out his chief rival Shwe Mann as party chairman, months ahead of a November general election. Shwe Mann was removed from his position as “acting” chairman of the ruling party because he was too busy with his other role as the country’s influential parliamentary speaker, the USDP said in a statement Thursday. The shakeup follows reports that security forces had surrounded USDP headquarters in the capital Naypyidaw late on Wednesday, preventing some members from leaving, and possibly taking Shwe Mann into custody.
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.
With Myanmar poised to hold its fairest general election in decades, the country remains in the dark over whom and what it will be voting for on Nov. 8. While Aung San Suu Kyi said her party will participate in the election, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is constitutionally barred from becoming president, leaving a blurred picture of what a vote for her would mean. And now the ruling party faces a potential leadership tussle between President Thein Sein and House Speaker Shwe Mann. Mr. Thein Sein, in power since the former military regime ceded control in 2011, has repeatedly hinted that he would seek a second term. On Tuesday, Zaw Htay, director of the president’s office, said Mr. Thein Sein’s “desires had not changed.” He said the president would seek a second term “if it is what the people wish.”
Myanmar will hold a general election on Nov. 8, its election commission said on Wednesday, its first nationwide ballot since the end of direct military rule and a vote that could decide the scope of the country’s reforms. The election comes at a critical time for Myanmar, which has undergone major changes since shifting to a quasi-civilian system in 2011 but is now seeing tensions between rival forces vying for power after an unprecedented period of reform. The ballot would determine representatives of the bicameral parliament and regional chambers for five-year terms. The newly formed upper and lower houses would nominate and vote on who would be president later. The Nov. 8 date was confirmed by Nyunt Tin, a director of the Union Election Commission (UEC), when contacted by Reuters.
The Union Election Commission (UEC) has rejected a request from the National League for Democracy (NLD) and ethnic parties to double the length of time parties will have to campaign for Burma’s crucial 2015 elections. The official election regulations will continue to restrict campaigning to 30 days before the polls, according to an election official, although exceptions may be made in remote states where the logistics of campaigning are expected to be difficult. The UEC met on Wednesday with representatives of the NLD—Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party—and five ethnic parties, which proposed amendments to the election rules laid out by the commission last month. Thaung Hlaing, a director at the UEC, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday that the parties’ proposal to allow 60 days of campaigning before voting day would not be adopted.
Myanmar’s ruling party, which was founded and backed by the country’s former military junta rulers, yesterday complained that there were voting irregularities in last weekend’s by-election, which saw them soundly beaten by the country’s leading dissident, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, and her party. Last Sunday’s landmark by-election brought the charismatic Nobel Peace Prize laureate and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party into office for the first time when they won 43 of the 45 seats up for grabs. The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) – which is comprised of many of the same former generals who seized power in 1988 and kept Ms Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years – won the one seat not contested by the NLD in the by-election.
Democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi declared a “new era” for Burma Monday, after her party claimed a landslide victory in Sunday’s parliamentary by-elections. Although official results could take days, the opposition National League for Democracy says it won at least 43 of the 44 seats it had contested. That includes the four seats in the administrative capital, Naypyitaw, which is populated mostly by government workers and military personnel. Aung San Suu Kyi told a sea of supporters outside NLD headquarters in Rangoon Monday that she hoped the election results will force government to heed the will of ordinary citizens. “We hope that this is the beginning of the new era, where there will be more emphasis on the role of the people in the everyday politics of the country,” she said.