Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Suu Ky party claims majority victory in Myanmar elections

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
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Yangon, Myanmar (AFP) – Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party said on Monday it had won enough seats in parliament to form an absolute majority and retain power. These allegations came despite that the state’s Federal Election Commission has not yet announced the full results of Sunday’s elections.

“I can now confirm that we now have more than 322 seats,” said Muniwa Aung Shin, spokeswoman for the National League for Democracy Information Committee. There are 642 seats in Parliament.

We aimed to secure 377 seats in total. “But it’s likely more than that,” said Muniwa Aung Shin.

There were no reliable official figures available on voter turnout, and the Trade Union Elections Commission earlier said it could take up to a week to release the full results. By 8:00 p.m. Monday, only nine candidates had been announced who had won seats in the national parliament, all of whom belonged to the National League for Democracy.

Yway Mal, an independent vote-counting service, said the National League for Democracy won 64 seats and its main opponent, the Solidarity Union and Development Party, won seven.

The People’s Alliance for Credible Elections – PACE – one of the largest polling organizations in Myanmar, said that in nearly a third of the polling stations it monitors, a small number of people could not vote because their names were not on the voting lists.

But the group described the vote on Election Day as peaceful and said that no major incidents were recorded.

The NLD’s victory was widely expected, despite speculation that deteriorating ties with the ethnic minority-based parties that cooperated with them in the last elections in 2015 could reduce their totals.

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Much of the NLD’s appeal is based on the popularity of its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who became the head of government with the title of state chancellor after the 2015 elections.

Its administration’s track record was mixed at best, with economic growth below expectations and there was no end to the decades-long armed conflict with ethnic minorities seeking greater autonomy.

Among her countrymen, however, she has managed to hold on to the appeal she had built during the decades of struggle for democracy against the military dictatorships that preceded her.

Outside of Myanmar, its reputation plummeted in response to its failure to defend the human rights of the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority. Its foreign supporters were shocked that it did nothing about the brutal counterinsurgency campaign launched by the Myanmar army in 2017 that forced some 740,000 Rohingya to flee across the border into neighboring Bangladesh.

But the issue was not a major concern for most voters, due to the deep-rooted prejudice against the Rohingya, who are considered by many to be illegal immigrants from South Asia despite their families having lived in Myanmar for generations. Few of them have citizenship or civil rights, including the right to vote.

In the past few months, Suu Kyi has shown a strong leadership image in state media and in its live appearances on social media as Myanmar is battling an increase in coronavirus infections.

At the same time, many traditional campaigns, such as mass gatherings, have been curbed by restrictions imposed to control the spread of the virus.

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More than 90 parties ran and 37 million people were eligible to vote, including 5 million first-time voters.

The National League for Democracy in Suu Kyi in 2015 achieved a landslide victory, giving it an absolute majority and ending more than five decades of military rule.

Her government has been criticized by rights groups over the way the elections have been conducted, with a focus on denying the right to vote for the Rohingya minority.

Ismail Wolf, Regional Director of Fortify Rights, said in a statement released Monday, “One of the fundamental principles of elections under international law is universal and equal suffrage, and that is not what happened yesterday.” “The international community must unequivocally condemn the denial of the Rohingya and other ethnic nationalities of the right to vote or the risk of paving the way for future violations.”

“Other concerns include the government’s continuing repression of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including the arbitrary arrest and detention of actors and civil society activists,” the organization said.

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