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Suu Kyi’s party heads for landslide in historic Myanmar vote

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi waves at supporter

Yangon: Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party said today that it had won 56 of the 57 parliamentary seats from Myanmar’s main city of Yangon, a result that portends a massive sweep in historic elections that could eventually give it the presidency next year.

The National League for Democracy announced that it had won 44 of the 45 lower house seats and all 12 of the upper house seats from Yangon, a party stronghold, in Sunday’s general election. It also won 87 of the 90 seats in the Yangon state legislature. Elections for regional parliaments were held simultaneously.

As the results were announced at the party’s headquarters in Yangon, huge cheers broke out among the crowd of red-shirted supporters, mindful that Myanmar may finally be freeing itself from the stranglehold of the military, which ruled the country for a half-century until 2011 and continued to wield influence through a quasi-civilian government afterward.

Aung Kyaw Kyaw, a 29-year-old pharmacist, said he didn’t vote for the ruling party because “they were only former military people. If I voted for them, that means I am asking my own enemy to come back into my life.”

The Yangon result was not announced by the government’s Union Election Commission, but the NLD has stationed representatives at counting centers and is keeping tallies that are being relayed to its headquarters.

The election commission has been slow in releasing the numbers.

Earlier, Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and pro-democracy icon, urged supporters not to provoke losing rivals who mostly represent the former junta that ruled this Southeast Asian nation, also known as Burma, for a half-century.

Hours before the Yangon announcement, party spokesman Win Htein said the NLD had won about 70 percent of the votes counted by midday. Another spokesman, Nyan Win, put the number at 90 percent.

“We will win a landslide,” Nyan Win told The Associated Press.

The comments, if confirmed by official results from yesterday’s general election, indicate that Suu Kyi’s party would not only dominate Parliament, but could also secure the presidency despite handicaps built into the constitution.

“I want Mother Suu to win in this election,” said Ma Khine, a street vendor, referring to the 70-year-old Suu Kyi with an affectionate term many here use.

“She has the skill to lead the country. I respect her so much. I love her. She will change our country in a very good way.”

The NLD has been widely expected to finish with the largest number of seats in Parliament. A two-thirds majority would give it control over the executive posts under Myanmar’s complicated parliamentary-presidency system, which also reserves 25 per cent of Parliament’s 664 seats for the military.

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