Aung San Suu Kyi’s party confirmed winner in Myanmar election

The National League for Democracy (NLD) party, led by Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, has been officially returned to power following elections on Sunday [Lynn Bo Bo/EPA]

The governing party of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has won enough parliamentary seats to form the next government, official results showed on Friday, in a poll disputed by the military-aligned opposition and criticised by rights groups.

According to the latest batch of results from Sunday’s vote, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) has secured the 322 seats in the bicameral legislature needed to form a government.

The NLD has taken 346 seats of the 412 seats that have been declared, with results from 64 more yet to be announced. The governing party declared earlier this week that its own tallies showed it had won a landslide victory.

“People clearly realised the need for the NLD to get enough votes to form a government on their own,” NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt told the AFP news agency, adding this would help “minimise political conflict”.

Confirmation of the comfortable win will be a welcome boost for Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate who has had a turbulent first term marked by a brutal 2017 crackdown on the ethnic Rohingya that is now the subject of a genocide investigation, a failure to make significant headway on the country’s myriad ethnic conflicts and now the coronavirus.

Myanmar suffered nearly 50 years of isolation and decay under strict military rule, and Aung San Suu Kyi herself spent many years under house arrest before the generals began to loosen their hold on power and the first elections were held in 2011.

Even now, her government is required to govern with military involvement, in particular in the areas of security and defence, under a constitution that was drafted during the generals’ rule.

This time, the ballot was seen as a referendum on Aung San Suu Kyi’s government, which maintained its popularity at home even as the Rohingya crisis damaged its international reputation. Rohingya were excluded from the poll, while voting was cancelled in some conflict areas, affecting some 1.5 million people.

Results questioned

The main opposition party, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), had won 24 seats, according to the partial official results.

The USDP raised objections to the poll on Wednesday and demanded a new vote as soon as possible “in order to have an election that is free, fair, unbiased and free from unfair campaigning”.

A USDP spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

Myanmar police were deployed to the Union Election Commission building in Naypyidaw after protesters held a rally demanding a new election [Thet Aung/AFP]

Yangon-based analyst Khin Zaw Win warned the coming months could be messy, adding that the situation was a consequence of the UEC, which is appointed by the government, being filled with “yes-men and incompetents”.

But even if some results were overturned, “the NLD landslide is so large that they wouldn’t alter the overall outcome”, said Richard Horsey from the International Crisis Group.

International and domestic observers said the vote went smoothly and without major irregularities, but there has been criticism of the commission’s lack of transparency and its cancellation of the polls across many ethnic minority areas, which sparked more upset in already restive areas.

Some will conclude the electoral process does not work for them and choose “political insurrection or insurgency instead”, warned Horsey.

The election commission on Wednesday said any allegations of irregularities were from a minority of participants.

The NLD has also demanded proof of wrongdoing, while the military, in an earlier statement, said the election had been carried out successfully.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies