Asia

Myanmar election: Military 'will co-operate' with new government

Myanmar's army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing addresses reporters during a news conference at the Defence Ministry in Naypyitaw September 21, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Army chief Min Aung Hlaing congratulated the NLD on its performance in the polls

Myanmar's military chief has pledged to work with the country's new government, following landmark elections on Sunday.

Min Aung Hlaing said the military would "do what is best in co-operation with the new government during the post-election period".

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy is on track for a majority, taking about 80% of declared seats.

But a quarter of parliamentary seats are allocated to the military, meaning it will remain hugely influential.

Last weekend's vote was Myanmar's first openly contested general election for 25 years.

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Media captionAung San Suu Kyi says people are "far more politicised" now

The NLD won elections decisively in 1990 - only for the result to be nullified and Ms Suu Kyi placed under long-term house arrest.

President Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing have congratulated Ms Suu Kyi on her party's performance in the polls, though have not formally conceded defeat. They have agreed to hold talks on national reconciliation with her after the final results are announced.

More than 47% of results have been declared so far, and on Thursday morning, the NLD were said to be 38 seats short of a majority.

The ruling military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) - which won the last, widely criticised election five years ago - has so far gained about 5% of the seats being contested in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Myanmar's historic election

Image copyright AP

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US President Barack Obama called Myanmar's President Thein Sein on Thursday to congratulate him and the country on "a historic free and fair general election", government spokesman U Ye Htut has said.

"And second he also wants to congratulate the NLD for their success in the election," U Ye Htut told the BBC.

President Thein Sein has also pledged that his government "will respect the people's decision and choice and will hand over power as scheduled".

Aung San Suu Kyi - 'The Lady'

Image copyright Reuters
  • 70-year-old daughter of Myanmar's independence hero, Gen Aung San
  • Spent 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010, despite the NLD winning a landslide in elections in 1990 which were later nullified
  • Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for "her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights"
  • Sidelined in 2010 elections but released from house arrest six days later
  • Won a parliamentary seat in 2012 by-election, as country adopted liberalising reforms

Full profile

About 30 million people were eligible to vote in Sunday's election in Myanmar. Turnout was estimated at about 80%.

However, hundreds of thousands of people - including the Muslim Rohingya minority, who are not recognised as citizens - were denied voting rights.

A quarter of the 664 parliamentary seats are set aside for the army and a handful were not contested, leaving 491 seats.

For the NLD to have the winning majority and be able to select the president, it will need at least two-thirds of those seats.