Suu Kyi party set for ma­jor win in Myan­mar elec­tion Suu Kyi says she, not new pres­i­dent, will call the shots

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

YANGON/MAN­DALAY: Myan­mar democ­racy cham­pion Aung San Suu Kyi made it clear yes­ter­day that she was ready to defy the pow­er­ful mil­i­tary’s at­tempts to clip her wings, as fresh re­sults from Sun­day’s his­toric elec­tion showed her party head­ing for a re­sound­ing win.

As vote tal­lies trick­led in, Suu Kyi’s long-op­pressed National League for Democ­racy (NLD) looked set to take control of most re­gional as­sem­blies as well as form­ing the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, a tri­umph that will re­shape the po­lit­i­cal land­scape. Un­der the con­sti­tu­tion drawn up by Myan­mar’s for­mer junta, Suu Kyi is barred by the con­sti­tu­tion from tak­ing the pres­i­dency be­cause her chil­dren are for­eign na­tion­als, a clause few doubt was in­serted specif­i­cally to rule her out.

But in two in­ter­views yes­ter­day, the No­bel peace lau­re­ate said that, who­ever was ap­pointed pres­i­dent by the newly elected houses of par­lia­ment, she would call the shots. She told the BBC that she would be “mak­ing all the de­ci­sions as the leader of the win­ning party” and Chan­nel News Asia that the next pres­i­dent would have “no au­thor­ity”. The rul­ing Union Sol­i­dar­ity and De­vel­op­ment Party (USDP), which was cre­ated by the junta and is led by re­tired sol­diers, has con­ceded de­feat in a poll that was a mile­stone on Myan­mar’s rocky path from dic­ta­tor­ship to democ­racy.

A CLEAR WIN The NLD said its tally of re­sults posted at polling sta­tions showed it was on track to take more than twothirds of seats that were con­tested in par­lia­ment, enough to form Myan­mar’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment since the early 1960s.

The party would win more than 250 of the 330 seats not oc­cu­pied by the mil­i­tary in the lower house of par­lia­ment, NLD spokesman Win Htein pre­dicted yes­ter­day. Un­der the junta-crafted con­sti­tu­tion, a quar­ter of the seats are un­elected and re­served for the armed forces.

Reuters was not able to in­de­pen­dently ver­ify the party’s own es­ti­mates of its per­for­mance.

The elec­tion com­mis­sion said the NLD had won 78 of the 88 seats de­clared so far for the 440-strong lower house. No seats have been de­clared in the up­per house. Of­fi­cial re­sults also showed that Sun­day’s elec­tion had handed the NLD a land­slide win in the bat­tle for re­gional as­sem­blies, with Suu Kyi’s party win­ning 143 of the 165 seats de­clared so far for lo­cal leg­is­la­tures and the USDP just 12.

“The dif­fer­ence be­tween the par­ties is huge. It’s a clear win,” said Si­tida, a 37-year-old Bud­dhist monk in the cen­tral city of Man­dalay who marched in the coun­try’s 2007 “Saf­fron Rev­o­lu­tion” protests that were blood­ily crushed by the junta. Si­tida, who was sen­tenced to 70 years in prison for his role in the demon­stra­tions but was given amnesty as part of po­lit­i­cal re­forms in 2011, said the mil­i­tary would now have to ac­cept the NLD’s win and ne­go­ti­ate an or­derly re­treat from politics. “Daw Suu can make this hap­pen. Daw Suu can con­vince them,” he said, re­fer­ring to Suu Kyi with an hon­orific.

How­ever, while the USDP has been cut down and much of the es­tab­lish­ment shaken by the ex­tent of Suu Kyi’s vic­tory, the army re­mains a for­mi­da­ble power.

In ad­di­tion to his bloc of par­lia­ment seats, the com­man­der-in-chief nom­i­nates the heads of three pow­er­ful and big-bud­get min­istries - in­te­rior, de­fense and bor­der se­cu­rity - and the con­sti­tu­tion gives him the right to take over the gov­ern­ment un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

The mil­i­tary has said it will ac­cept the out­come of the elec­tion, and Suu Kyi said times have changed since the 1990 elec­tion she won a land­slide that the mil­i­tary ig­nored. She spent years un­der house ar­rest fol­low­ing that poll.

“I find that the peo­ple are far more politi­cized now than they were ... so it’s much more dif­fi­cult for those who wish to en­gage in ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties to get away with it,” she told the BBC. — Reuters

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