Myanmar elections: Jubilation as results nod to Aung San Suu Kyi win

Supporters of the National League for Democracy party celebrating the election results in Yangon on Monday.
Supporters of the National League for Democracy party celebrating the election results in Yangon on Monday.PHOTO: EPA

YANGON (AFP) - Decked out in the trademark red of Myanmar's opposition, hundreds gathered at its Yangon headquarters on Monday (Nov 9) as anticipation of victory for Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's party soared with poll results hinting at the once unthinkable - a government they elected.

"We're tired of the military. Mother Suu will bring change... It starts tonight," said Mr Tin Htun Aung, 30, a National League for Democracy sticker dotted on each cheek and waving a large red flag with the party's fighting peacock emblem.

Packed tight in a Yangon road outside the NLD's base, party faithful cheered as results from the city were announced live on a big screen.

Ms Suu Kyi's party claimed almost all of the first and second batches of seats announced on Monday night, although these represent just a tiny fraction of results as the election authorities are expected to take days to reveal a final count.

Like many among the mainly young supporters braving the sardine-tight crowd and humidity, Mr Tin Htung Aung hoped Monday night would shape the future.

"My daughter is nine. I want my country to be better when she is older. We are a very poor country. Sui Kyi can fix that," he said.

The jubilant scenes were flashed on state television in news programmes on Monday night, a rare glimpse of the opposition in government-dominated broadcasts, which later went back to more familiar territory airing montages of President Thein Sein.

A free and prosperous future was a common refrain on the streets of Yangon, Myanmar's teeming commercial hub that bore witness to several of the nation's most notorious crackdowns under the harsh years of junta rule.

The long-isolated country has already changed immensely in a blooming of openness in recent years spurred by reforms from a quasi-civilian regime that replaced outright military rule.

The effects can be read on Yangon's fast-growing skyline and its increasingly traffic-clogged streets, where smartphones and glossy billboards - once rarities - are now commonplace.

But many yearn for deeper improvements in basic services, left neglected during years under the military.

"Our education system is poor, we cannot compete with other countries," said 18-year-old economics student Kaung Htet Thaw, shouting above the NLD party songs blaring from massive speakers. "If the NLD win, they will help us rise up."

The promise of change, pegged to the towering presence of Myanmar's political titan Suu Kyi, drew some in the crowd from overseas.

Wearing head-to-toe in the party red, computer programmer Phyo Sin Hyaw said she had returned to vote on Sunday from Singapore.

The 33-year-old, an NLD bandana wrapped tight around her forehead, said the expectation of victory was tempered by fears of dirty tricks by the hated old guard - especially if the NLD sweeps the board.

"The crowd is young. They need change. They want development and jobs," she said. "This is their moment."