Suu Kyi party chalks up wins in first Myan­mar poll re­sults

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

YAN­GON: Sup­port­ers of Aung San Suu Kyi’s prodemoc­racy party yes­ter­day cheered in grow­ing ex­cite­ment as early re­sults from Myan­mar’s his­toric elec­tion boosted hopes of sweep­ing gains to carry it to power af­ter decades of mil­i­tary dom­i­nance.

Elec­tion author­i­ties have so far re­leased only a small frac­tion of the re­sults, but of the 36 an­nounced the Na­tional League for Democ­racy has scooped 35, in a psy­cho­log­i­cal boost to crowds of Suu Kyi sup­port­ers gath­ered in front of her party head­quar­ters in Yan­gon Mon­day evening.

“We’ll win tonight, we’ll stay un­til we win any­way,” said 24-year-old Wanna Htay, sport­ing a Scar­lett ban­dana with the party’s iconic fight­ing pea­cock mo­tif as the crowd sung and cheered around him.

Ear­lier party spokesman Win Htein told AFP that un­of­fi­cial tal­lies showed the op­po­si­tion was “on track to win more than 70 per­cent of seats around the coun­try”. He did not spec­ify if the per­cent­age would trans­late into power un­der Myan­mar’s com­plex po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.

Sun­day’s elec­tions saw mil­lions line up to cast their bal­lots in what many hope will mark a dra­matic leap to­wards democ­racy in the South­east Asian na­tion, which with­ered un­der the iron grip of junta rule for decades.The NLD, which holds a tiny pro­por­tion of seats clinched in 2012 by-elec­tions, is shoot­ing for 67 per­cent of elected seats in the na­tional leg­is­la­ture to be able to se­lect a pres­i­dent and form a gov­ern­ment.

That would be enough to over­whelm the USDP and their mil­i­tary al­lies-who are gifted 25 per­cent of seats by a con­sti­tu­tion scripted to en­sure they still have a ma­jor stake in the fu­ture.

The army-backed USDP, or Union Sol­i­dar­ity and De­vel­op­ment Party, said it was ready for a wipe­out in the com­mer­cial cap­i­tal Yan­gon, while sev­eral of its heavy­weights-in­clud­ing its chair­man-lost their seats. But the NLD shied away from an out­right dec­la­ra­tion of vic­tory, with elec­tion author­i­ties ex­pected to re­lease re­sults in sev­eral waves deep into Mon­day night.

Suu Kyi, who is still barred from the pres­i­dency un­der the army-drafted con­sti­tu­tion, re­mained cau­tious, but hinted at vic­tory.

“It is not the time to con­grat­u­late our can­di­dates who we think have won the elec­tion,” she told sup­port­ers and jour­nal­ists from the bal­cony of her party’s Yan­gon head­quar­ters.

But “peo­ple have an idea of the re­sult even if I don’t say it,” she added. Elec­tion author­i­ties have said that pre­lim­i­nary fig­ures would be re­leased within 48 hours of Sun­day’s vote, and a full na­tion­wide count could take 10 days or more.

Change afoot?

In its Yan­gon strong­hold, the NLD took 12 lower-house seats and 23 more for the re­gional par­lia­ment. The USDP, ap­pear­ing in­creas­ingly be­lea­guered, has taken just one Yan­gon re­gional par­lia­ment seat so far.

Early NLD vic­to­ries in­cludes a win for Naing Ngan Linn, who was in­jured in a dra­matic sword at­tack while out can­vass­ing on Oc­to­ber 29 in Thar­keta town­ship on the city’s fringes.

The sit­ting MP was hos­pi­talised with deep gashes to his arms and face af­ter the at­tack, ap­par­ently by a drunken lo­cal gang, in what the party de­scribed as the worst in­ci­dent of vi­o­lence dur­ing its cam­paign. But he was back on the cam­paign trail just a few days later. Even the state-backed Global New Light of Myan­mar de­clared the “dawn of a new era”, while USDP heavy­weight Shwe Mann con­ceded on his Face­book page that he had lost his seat to his NLD chal­lenger.

The junta nom­i­nally gave up power in 2011, and the coun­try has since spun through rapid change, with the quasi-civil­ian USDP gov­ern­ment launch­ing re­forms that brought the end of most in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions. But the USDP was braced for ma­jor losses and some lo­cal me­dia called on Pres­i­dent Thein Sein to con­cede with­out de­lay. —AFP

YAN­GON: Sup­port­ers of Myan­mar op­po­si­tion leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party cheer as they watch the of­fi­cial re­sults on a gi­ant screen out­side the party head­quar­ters in Yan­gon yes­ter­day. —AFP

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