Suu Kyi hints at Burma election victory but warns: Don’t gloat

Published: Monday 9th November 2015 by The News Editor

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Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has hinted at a victory for her party in historic elections – and urged supporters not to provoke their losing rivals.

In her first comments after Sunday’s polling, Suu Kyi told a crowd gathered at the National League for Democracy party that the results would not be announced soon, “but 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.”

Officials across Burma, also known as Myanmar, are counting votes from the election in which the NLD is expected to finish with the largest number of seats in parliament. But its road to forming a government remains filled with hurdles even though the country will move a step closer to greater democracy.

“Dawn of a new era. Millions vote in historic election” was the headline of the New Light of Myanmar, a government-owned newspaper,reflecting how much Burma has changed since the military gave up its half-century rule in 2011.

Sunday’s vote was billed as the freest in the south-east Asian nation, which has been run by a quasi-civilian government for the last five years in a scripted transition towards democracy.

Many of the eligible 30 million voters cast ballots for the first time, including Oxford-educated Ms Suu Kyi, 70, the epitome of the democracy movement.

Although 91 parties took part, the main fight was between the NLD and the ruling Union Solidarity Development Party, made up largely of former junta members. A host of other parties from ethnic minorities, who form 40% of Burma’s 52 million people, also ran.

“I’m really happy because from what I heard the NLD is winning. I couldn’t sleep until 11 or 12 because I was looking everywhere for results,” said San Win, a 40-year-old newspaper seller.

“Things will change. If it does Mother Suu will do her best for the country,” Tun Khin, another vendor, added, referring to Ms Suu Kyi with the affectionate term that many use.

The former head of the Union Solidarity and Development Party earlier conceded defeat in his constituency, becoming the first prominent casualty to the NLD.

Shwe Mann, who is speaker of the lower house of parliament, announced his defeat in a Facebook post, saying: “Congratulations!” to his opponent from the NLD in their central Burma constituency. He said he went to his opponent’s home to convey congratulations in person.

Shwe Mann was seen as a reformer in his party’s ranks and deposed as its chief by the majority, more-pro-military faction loyal to President Thein Sein.

His rejection by the voters, despite his reputation as a moderate, could suggest the depth of support for the NLD.

Published: Monday 9th November 2015 by The News Editor

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