Yangon – Myanmar’s opposition, the National League for Democracy (NLD) on Monday expressed optimism as ballots were being counted in the country’s first openly contested elections in 25 years.
“It is too early to congratulate our candidates,” party leader Aung San Suu Kyi said at the party headquarters, “but I think you all have an idea of the results.”
Similarly, NLD spokesman Win Htein said that the party is expecting to win at least 80 per cent of the contested seats.
There has been no opinion or exit polls in the country, which was under military rule from 1962 to 2011, and is currently governed by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
Meanwhile, the Union Election Commission (UEC) stated overnight that voters’ turnout was around 80 per cent and that results would be counted and released as they came in for each township.[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”70560″]
Reacting to the development in Myanmar, the U.S. praised the “peaceful and historic” elections, but called for transparent results.
The polls are “an important step forward,” Secretary of State John Kerry said, but he noted “impediments to the realisation of full democratic and civilian government.”
These include the ongoing disenfranchisement of minority Rohingya Muslims, and the reservation of unelected seats for the military.
It would be recalled that the NLD boycotted the previous elections in 2010 over a clause in the constitution that bars Suu Kyi from becoming president, as her sons are British.
In the vote before that, in 1990, the NLD won a solid majority, but the result was ignored by the military government, in power in different forms since 1962.
The ruling USDP have so far made no post-election statement (dpa/NAN)