Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party said that it was confident it was heading for a landslide victory in Myanmar’s historic elections, and official results from the government that began trickling in appeared to back up the claim.
Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and pro-democracy icon, urged supporters of the opposition National League of Democracy party not to provoke losing rivals who mostly represent the former junta that ruled this Southeast Asian nation for a half-century.
The NLD had won about 70 per cent of the votes counted by midday yesterday, party spokesman Win Htein said. The comments, if confirmed by official results from Sunday’s general election, indicate that Suu Kyi’s party would not only dominate Parliament, but could also secure the presidency despite handicaps built into the constitution.
“We will win a landslide,” said another party spokesman.
“I want Mother Suu to win in this election,” said Ma Khine, a street vendor, referring to the 70-year-old Suu Kyi with an affectionate term many here use. “She has the skill to lead the country. I respect her so much. I love her. She will change our country in a very good way.”
The government’s Election Commission said late yesterday afternoon that the NLD had won 12 lower house seats from the main city of Yangon, as it started announcing official results. The announcement elicited raucous cheers outside the opposition party’s headquarters.
The 12 seats were among 45 representing townships in Yangon. The commission was expected to announce more results later yesterday.
The NLD has been widely expected to finish with the largest number of seats in Parliament. No matter the results, the election will not create a fully democratic Myanmar, which ended a half-century of military rule in 2011, followed by a quasi-civilian government run by a party made up of former military figures now expected to fare badly in the elections.
The constitution reserves 25 per cent of parliamentary seats for the military, and was rewritten to keep Suu Kyi from the presidency. A constitutional amendment bars anyone with a foreign spouse or child from being president or vice president. Suu Kyi’s two sons are British, as was her late husband.
Suu Kyi, however, has said she will act as the country’s leader if the NLD wins the presidency, saying she will be “above the president.”
In her first comments after the elections, Suu Kyi told a crowd gathered at the NLD party headquarters that while vote tabulations wouldn’t be announced until later, “I think you all have the idea of the results.”
“It is still a bit early to congratulate our candidates who will be the winners,” she said. “I want to remind you all that even candidates who didn’t win have to accept the winners, but it is important not to provoke the candidates who didn’t win to make them feel bad.”
The NLD had thousands of monitors deployed across Myanmar during the vote.