Suu Kyi's party wins majority in historic Myanmar vote

Nobel laureate's party captures two-thirds majority - enough seats to choose the country's next president.

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    Suu Kyi's party wins majority in historic Myanmar vote
    Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has led her NLD party to a majority in parliament [Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters]

    Yangon, Myanmar - Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party won a majority in parliament on Friday in the Southeast Asian nation's historic election.

    With votes still being counted, the Union Election Commission said the National League for Democracy (NLD) party had crossed the 329 threshold of seats needed for an outright majority in both houses of the 664-member parliament.

    The country's first free election in 25 years took place on Sunday. 

    "The people of Myanmar have been dutiful and it is time for the NLD to try to fulfill the wishes of the people," senior party official U Tin Oo told Al Jazera outside of its headquarters. "The NLD has to try hard to change."

    Phil Robertson from New York-based Human Rights Watch said it was time to move on from the country's bloody past. 

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    "Obviously the people of Burma have had their voices heard," Robertson told Al Jazeera. "I think it's important we know who has won this election, and now the very hard work of moving beyond the human rights abuses of the government comes into play." 

    NLD captured 21 lower house seats on Friday, the election commission said, taking its total to 348 seats with 82.9 percent of the vote now confirmed.

    The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party has won 140 seats so far. 


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    The party holding a majority is able to select the next president, who can then name a cabinet and form a new government.

    Parliamentary seats
    Lower House - 440 seats
    Military quota - 110 
    Upper House - 224 seats 
    Military quota - 56
    Suu Kyi won the last free vote in 1990, but the military ignored the result. She spent most of the next 20 years under house arrest before her release in 2010.

    Friday's majority announcement came exactly five years to the day when Suu Kyi was freed from house arrest. Al Jazeera's correspondent Wayne Hay was there.

    "I had to sneak into the country to cover the 2010 election," recalled Hay. "On this exact day five years ago, we were here outside the home of the NLD's leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she was released from her last period of house arrest."

    The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is barred from taking the presidency because she's married to a foreigner under a constitution written by the then-ruling generals to preserve their power.

    But Suu Kyi has said that may change once her party is in power.

    On Thursday, the country's powerful military rulers - who have dominated Myanmar's politics for decades - congratulated Suu Kyi on her electoral win and pledged a peaceful transfer of power.

    While election observers have said the vote was for the most part free and fair, some people from minority communities - in particular the Muslim Rohingya  - were denied the right to vote and others were disqualified as candidates.

    Myanmar's government has denied the Rohingya citizenship. Hundreds died in clashes between Rohingya and Buddhists, the religious majority in the country, in 2012.

    About 140,000 Rohingya live in squalid camps while thousands more have fled by boat, leading to a regional migration crisis.

    While campaigning, Suu Kyi addressed allegations of "genocide" targeting the Muslim Rohingya saying "it is very important" not to "exaggerate the problems" in Myanmar.

    "I promise everybody who is living in this country proper protection in accordance with the law, and in accordance with the norms of human rights," she said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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