Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi wins by-election: NLD party

 

At the pro-democracy headquarters in Rangoon, unofficial results were announced and party supporters celebrated

Burma's Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has won a by-election for parliament, her party says, after a landmark vote that saw 45 seats contested.

Ms Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) said she had easily won in Kawhmu. Official results are not expected until later in the week.

In a statement, she urged supporters to show restraint in their celebrations.

The vote is a key test of political reforms, though the army and its allies dominate the 664-seat parliament.

The NLD was competing in its first elections since 1990.

'Dignified'

Thousands of people who gathered outside the NLD headquarters in Rangoon danced and cheered at reports that Ms Suu Kyi had won her seat.

"It is the people's victory! We have taught them a lesson," one shopkeeper wearing an NLD T-shirt told the Associated Press news agency.

Analysis

With the Kawhmu result close to a foregone conclusion, thoughts are already turning to what sort of a local parliamentarian Ms Aung San Suu Kyi will be.

"We need better transportation and opportunity for young people here," said U Myo Khine, a father of two, as he watched her convoy pass by.

Others have their eyes on the much greater prize, the general election of 2015.

"The army has changed and are now more lenient," said NLD official Myo Win. "So there is more of a possibility that Aung San Suu Kyi can become president in 2015."

Aung San Suu Kyi said in a statement: "It is natural that the NLD members and their supporters are joyous at this point.

"However, it is necessary to avoid manners and actions that will make the other parties and members upset. It is very important that NLD members take special care that the success of the people is a dignified one."

Even if the NLD wins most of the 44 seats it is contesting, the army and its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) will still hold about 80% of seats in parliament.

During the campaign, foreign journalists and international observers were given the widest access for years.

The European Union hinted that it could ease some sanctions if the vote went smoothly.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has congratulated Burma on holding the vote.

The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Rangoon says the NLD alleged some voting irregularities in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win told AFP news agency he had sent a letter of complaint to the election commission over allegations ballot forms had been tampered with.

He said there had been complaints that wax had been put over the tick-box for the party, which could later be rubbed off to cancel the vote.

An EU observer, Malgorzata Wasilewska, said she had seen "encouraging signs" about the conduct of the vote, but stressed that she had only seen polling stations in Rangoon.

Pace of change

Burma's current government is still dominated by figures from the old military regime that ruled the country for decades and was accused of widespread rights abuses.

Burma's by-elections

A polling station in Rangoon
  • A total of 45 seats contested by 176 candidates from 17 parties, with eight independents
  • Lower House has 440 seats (330 elected), the Upper House 224 seats (168 elected) and the regional assemblies 14
  • Before this election, the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party dominated with 348 seats; serving soldiers had 166
  • By-elections fill vacancies of those elected in 2010 polls who became ministers and deputy ministers

But since 2010, when a political transition began, the government has impressed observers with the pace of change.

Most political prisoners have been freed, media restrictions have been relaxed and, crucially, Ms Suu Kyi and the NLD have been persuaded to rejoin the political process.

They have taken no part in Burma's politics since 1990, when the NLD won a landslide victory in a general election but the military refused to accept the result.

Ms Suu Kyi spent much of the following 20 years under house arrest and refused to take part in the 2010 election, which ushered in the current reforms.

The NLD was one of 17 opposition parties that took part in Sunday's election.

Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, 66, was standing for a lower house seat in the Kawhmu Township constituency, outside Rangoon.

Our correspondent says regardless of the outcome of the by-elections, Burma's balance of power will not change overnight and full democracy is still a long way off.

She says all Burma's ethnic minorities must be made to feel they have a voice in the political system and that President Thein Sein still needs to convince more wary parliamentarians that it is in the country's interests to open up to the outside world.

 

More on This Story

Burma's Transition

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 23.

    re: #4 @kaybraes
    Burmese army does not use AK-47, it uses Heckler & Koch.

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 22.

    Politics. Don't we all hate them? To get elected she has to let people think they're going to get jobs, transport and all kinds of goodies. Then they don't materialize and the wheels fall off. Still democracy has to be better than the alternative, dunnit?

  • Comment number 21.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    It is about time that the world in general found a way to stop the kind of corruption practiced by the despicable people that have ruled Borneo for decades.

    Others I will mention include Zimbabwe - Syria - North Korea.

    The purpetrators & "friends" deserve the maximum punishment possible - including all banks who have been hiding the money stolen by such scum. The banks know who they are.

  • rate this
    -17

    Comment number 19.

    And watch the country fall into chaos.

    There's a reason why Burma was a dictatorship... same reason why Afghanistan needs to be ruled by a dictator.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 18.

    We are praying for Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD Party that this will mark a new era of freedom for Burma. But we must not forget that the Burmese Govt is still seriously oppressing some of the ethnic groups, Karen, Karenni, Kachin, Rohinja etc. who live close to the borders with China and Thailand - and this has even become worse in recent days. We must not rest until this persecution stops.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 17.

    Perhaps I should share the angst of those commentators concerned about developments in this country some 5575 miles distant, but my local pasty shop is less than 1 mile away and we have a rather more pressing problem.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 16.

    Ms Aung San Suu Kyi is already an asset to Burma, in parliament she will have more opportunities to advance Burma & her principles. No doubt there will be different challenges, the pace & degree of future successes will be subjective.
    Like other politicians such as Gandhi or Sun-Yat-Sen who struggled against over-whelming odds, it's taking the stand & making the first small steps that matters.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 15.

    "The longest journey begins with a single step". That step has now been taken, but there is still a long and perilous journey ahead. The crunch will come if the junta feels the democracy movement is actually reaching a position where it can challenge for control of the country. Let's hope that by that time international and internal pressure will cause them to step down without violence.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 14.

    Should have been PM in 1990. Why did the UN not do anything back then?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 13.

    re #11 SLF: it is not true that Myanmar is the accepted name. A good many opposition members dispute the right of the Junta to change the name. In the Burmese language the two names are closely related anyway.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 12.

    I salute you, Aung San Suu Kyi, for your bravery and fortitude but watch your back....please.You know better than most people what your own Government is capable of.

  • rate this
    -21

    Comment number 11.

    Nice to see the BBC are still referring to Myanmar by it's British colonial name of Burma.

    Let go of the past and embrace the present.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 10.

    I have to wonder if Burma, like us, have a European community, African community, Muslim or Christian community maybe even a Bradford East community. Isn't multiculturism wonderful.

  • rate this
    +18

    Comment number 9.

    Looks as if light is beginning to shine in a dark place.

    This is only a first step towards a democratic Burma, but it's a step in the right direction.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 8.

    There is still a very long way to go in order for a democracy to be achieved in Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi is an extremely courageous woman - she has the courage to speak out for what she believes in. How many of us would do that in similar circumstances?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    >Think yourself lucky you live under our democracy and not under theirs

    Oh I don't know, we're becoming a Big Brother nation with email and Internet snooping. Write something on Twitter these days and you can end up in prison.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 6.

    @5 . kaybass

    Instead we find ourselves looking down the barrel of a very large telescope.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 5.

    1 & 2-----Think yourself lucky you live under our democracy and not under theirs. You would not be able to put your strange views of democracy in print if you lived in Burma without finding yourself looking down the barrel of an AK 47.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 4.

    This byelection is for the vacant seats which constitute less than 10% of the parliament. It seems that Suu Kyi took part as a gesture to recognise the regime's reform. There are many challenegs ahead. One is Burman Fascism. Suu Kyi herself was strongly criticised by the military for having married to a British. Most ethnic leaders, being foreign residents, are also barred by current legislations.

 

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