Myan­mar pres­i­dent vows smooth power tran­si­tion

Suu Kyi’s NLD wins 80% of elected seats

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

YAN­GON: Myan­mar’s Pres­i­dent Thein Sein yes­ter­day said his­toric polls won in a thump­ing land­slide by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party were the con­se­quence of his gov­ern­ment’s re­forms and vowed a smooth tran­si­tion of power. The for­mer junta gen­eral, who shed his uni­form to lead the coun­try’s quasi-civil­ian regime five years ago, said the Novem­ber 8 polls were tes­ta­ment to the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic changes that have swept the for­mer pariah state since the end of junta rule.

“The elec­tion is the re­sult of our re­form process and as we promised, we were able to hold it very suc­cess­fully,” he told a meet­ing of po­lit­i­cal par­ties in Yan­gon, in his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since the polls. “We will hand this process (of re­form) on to a new gov­ern­ment,” he said, adding “don’t worry about the tran­si­tion” in com­ments aimed at calm­ing nerves in the coun­try’s first at­tempt at a demo­cratic-style tran­si­tion for decades.

Ad­dress­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of nearly 90 po­lit­i­cal par­ties, many of which were trounced by Suu Kyi’s Na­tional League for Democ­racy, the Myan­mar leader said elec­tions are the “duty” of a demo­cratic na­tion. He ap­peared san­guine about the re­sound­ing de­feat of his army-backed Union Sol­i­dar­ity and De­vel­op­ment Party, which will slip into op­po­si­tion in the next par­lia­ment-due to sit from Fe­bru­ary.

“The win­ning party is re­spon­si­ble for car­ry­ing out its duty and other op­po­si­tion par­ties should pro­vide checks and bal­ances. That is called democ­racy,” he said.

Poll rout

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est of­fi­cial re­sults re­leased yes­ter­day evening the NLD has won nearly 80 per­cent of elected seats in the com­bined par­lia­ment so far, with only a few seats left to call.

The USDP has just 8 per­cent while eth­nic par­ties have around 11 per­cent. Elec­tion com­mis­sion head Tin Aye told re­porters in Naypyi­daw that of­fi­cials had tried to run a “free and fair” vote.

He added that out of 91 par­ties reg­is­tered for the polls, only 11 would en­ter the leg­is­la­ture af­ter the NLD rout.Thein Sein, a slight be­spec­ta­cled 70year-old, has steered the coun­try’s dra­matic open­ing up af­ter years of iso­la­tion, free­ing po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers, un­leash­ing a long-muz­zled press and wel­com­ing for­eign in­vest­ment.

Yes­ter­day Sun­day he listed tasks for the next gov­ern­ment to tackle in the coun­try, which still strug­gles with high poverty rates and poor ed­u­ca­tion, in­fra­struc­ture and health­care af­ter years of junta ne­glect. Th­ese in­clude na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, con­tin­u­ing ef­forts to end eth­nic re­bel­lions and push­ing for­ward with de­vel­op­ment.

Key talks

Both the pres­i­dent and army chief have agreed to talks with Suu Kyi in the com­ing days as the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal big-hit­ters look to ne­go­ti­ate the tran­si­tion. Ob­servers say it is im­per­a­tive that Suu Kyi build friendly ties with the mil­i­tary elite, which re­tains sig­nif­i­cant po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic power.

Suu Kyi has al­ready trav­elled to the cap­i­tal Naypyi­daw, where to­day she will at­tend a last ses­sion of the old par­lia­ment, which will con­tinue sit­ting as a care­taker leg­is­la­ture un­til Jan­uary.

On Sun­day she held talks with the par­lia­ment speaker Shwe Mann, a key USDP fig­ure who was tipped as a favourite com­pro­mise can­di­date for pres­i­dent un­til he was ousted as head of his party by mil­i­tary-backed ri­vals, in­clud­ing Thein Sein in Au­gust. “She com­forted me about the elec­tion and con­grat­u­lated me on ac­cept­ing the re­sults swiftly,” the speaker, who lost his con­stituency in the polls, said in a post on his of­fi­cial Face­book page. He said a more for­mal meet­ing be­tween the two would take place on Thurs­day. —AFP

YAN­GON: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of po­lit­i­cal par­ties lis­ten to Myan­mar’s Pres­i­dent Thein Sein’s speech at the Yan­gon Re­gional Gov­ern­ment Of­fice in Yan­gon yes­ter­day.—AFP

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