Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD), has predicted a landslide victory for her party following the country’s general election on the weekend.
In an interview with BBC‘s Fergal Keane, Ms Suu Kyi said she believed her party would win 75 per cent of the available seats in the lower house and expressed her hope that the military would accept the result.
“They’ve been saying repeatedly that they will respect the will of the people and that they will implement the results of the election,” she said.
Early results of Sunday’s election, which is the first free and fair vote in decades, have the NLD with a commanding lead of 78 out of the 88 seats that have been counted so far. This is in contrast to the 2010 election, which the NLD boycotted, claiming it was fraudulent. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) took power in that election, but are on track to lose this year.
Alexander Lambsdorff, Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM), called this election a “historic juncture in the democratic transition of Myanmar”.
“The poll was well organised and voters had a real choice between different candidates,” Mr Lambsdorff said. “The people of Myanmar turned out in large numbers to calmly cast their votes in a generally well-run polling process, and that the secrecy of the vote was respected. Before that, the election campaign was nearly entirely peaceful.”
However, Mr Lambsdorff warned that “constitutional, legal and procedural improvements will be required for truly genuine elections” in the future.
“The legal framework does not fully provide for the conduct of genuine elections, most notably because of limitations concerning the number of seats directly elected to the parliament, as well as some limitations on the right to vote and the right to stand,” he said.
Myanmar’s constitution reserves 25 per cent of parliamentary seats for the military, and also bars anyone with foreign-born children from becoming president. This includes Ms Suu Kyi, whose children hold United Kingdom passports.
Despite this, Ms Suu Kyi has said she will lead Myanmar anyway, with the president taking orders from her. She has moved to quash suggestions that this would be unfair, saying on Tuesday that she “believe[s] in transparency and accountability”.
“It works much better if I’m open about it, if I tell the people,” she said.
The electoral process was also criticised for excluding the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority, with neither the NLD nor the USDP fielding a single Muslim candidate.
Ms Suu Kyi is positive despite these concerns, and believes that increased interest in politics, and the rise of the Internet in Myanmar, helped drive the election result. “Times are different, the people are different. I find the people are far more politicised now… they are very much more alert to what is going on around them.”
“It’s much more difficult for those who wish to engage in irregularities to get away with it,” she said. – Jake Nelson
Top photo of a polling station in Myanmar from Al Jazeera’s TV coverage.