Myanmar holds historic election
YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar goes to the polls Sunday in an historic election that could thrust Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party into power and pull the country away from the grip of the military.
The Southeast Asian nation was ruled for five decades by a brutal junta that smothered opponents with violence, jail and political sleight of hand.
But in 2011 the junta suddenly handed power to a semi-civilian government led by former generals.
Sweeping reforms since have loosened the straitjacketed economy and brought many freedoms to an isolated, wearied people – including the release of most political prisoners.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party believes a fair vote will power it into government. It is the first election the party has contested since 1990, when the NLD claimed a landslide only to see the army ignore the result and condemn Suu Kyi to spend most of the next 20 years under house arrest.
Suu Kyi – affectionately known as “Mother Suu” – towers over the country's democracy movement, acting as a galvanising force for the NLD.
But the 70-year-old Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency by a constitutional clause believed to have been inserted by the army drafters specifically to hamper her political rise.