Massive scale of victory in Myanmar election has surprised even the NLD itself: Spokesman

Supporters of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi celebrate as they look at the official election results outside the National League of Democracy (NLD) headquarters.
Supporters of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi celebrate as they look at the official election results outside the National League of Democracy (NLD) headquarters.PHOTO: AFP

Myanmar's National League for Democracy (NLD) has officially won enough seats in the general election to command a majority in Parliament, the country's Union Election Commission has announced.

The NLD has taken 348 seats, past the crucial 329 mark for a majority. It won 238 seats in the Lower House and 110 in the Upper House.

The massive scale of the victory has surprised not just analysts and the ruling, military backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) but the NLD itself.

"We thought we would win around 60 per cent, but actually it's about 80 per cent," party spokesman and central executive committee member Nyan Win told The Straits Times.

He put down the rout of the USDP to a backlash to decades of military rule. "Burmese people don't want to be ruled by the army, they don't like it. They have had to take it for 60 years," he said.

The focus is now turning to an anticipated meeting between NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Thein Sein, armed forces chief General Min Aung Hlaing, and Speaker of Parliament Shwe Mann, which will likely take place next week.

"This meeting will be very, very important," Mr Nyan Win said, "because they have no experience in transferring power to other parties, especially to opposition parties. So we want to negotiate and compromise to change smoothly."

He admitted some worry and uncertainty.

"I don't know what will happen," he said in the interview at the party's headquarters. "But the chief (General Min Aung Hlaing) has said two or three times, that they will honour the result."

When it became apparent that the NLD was headed for a landslide, Ms Suu Kyi earlier this week wrote open letters to MrThein Sein, Gen Min Aung Hlaing and Mr Shwe Mann requesting a meeting for talks aimed at "reconciliation".

"The army or the present government, have a responsibility to communicate with us," Mr Nyan Win said. "But our chairperson said we won this election, and we have to start to negotiate. So she wrote the three letters."

The 73-year-old party spokesman, who is a close confidante and legal advisor to Ms Suu Kyi, said while three key ministers - for defence, home affairs and border affairs - would be appointed by the armed forces chief under the current Constitution, they would still be under the authority of the NLD government which should otherwise be stacked entirely with civilians.

Among top priorities, he said, were to change the Constitution, including Article 59(f) that bars Ms Suu Kyi from the Presidency because of the foreign citizenship of her two sons.

The NLD would also resume the peace process with armed ethnic groups, with a focus on political dialogue, he said.

The new government is scheduled to be sworn in at the end of March 2016, after the newly elected members of parliament vote for a new president and he or she has appointed a Cabinet.

nirmal@sph.com.sg