Myanmar ruling party member says it has 'lost completely' to Aung San Suu Kyi's party at polls

An NLD supporter cheering the election results outside the party's office in Mandalay on Nov 9.
An NLD supporter cheering the election results outside the party's office in Mandalay on Nov 9. PHOTO: AFP

YANGON (AFP) - A senior member of Myanmar's ruling party said on Tuesday (Nov 10) it had "lost completely" to Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition, as a major election win for her democracy movement appeared within touching distance.

The drip feed of poll results pointed to a big win for her National League for Democracy (NLD), which by Tuesday afternoon had swept up 78 of the 88 Lower House seats announced so far.

The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was braced for a rout after taking just five of the declared seats in the 440-seat house, with many party heavweights losing.

"Our USDP lost completely. The NLD has won," senior party member Kyi Win told AFP from party headquarters in the capital Naypyidaw.

"This is the fate of our country. Let them (the NLD) work. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has to take responsibility now... we congratulate them anyway."

Mr Kyi Win, a retired army officer who sits at the heart of party operations in the capital, said the NLD was poised to win a coveted majority in Parliament.

But official victory for the NLD remained elusive, with election officials releasing results at just a trickle throughout Tuesday.

The NLD needs 67 per cent of contested seats for that majority.

Anything higher would bolster its political leverage in a legislature where 25 per cent of seats are ring-fenced for the army.

Ms Suu Kyi's political ascent is also capped by the army-scripted Constitution that bars anyone with foreign children from the presidency.

Her two sons, much of whose upbringing she missed under house arrest in Yangon, are British.

A massive majority would strengthen her hand in selecting a favourable president, and she vowed before the election to be "above the president" in the event of an NLD win.

NLD voters believe an election win will reset the country under Ms Suu Kyi's guidance, in a major stride away from army control.

They remained confident of a major win, but cautious of kickback from the powerful army.

"I think the results will come soon, but I'm worried," said Mr Ma Pyone, a vegetable seller in downtown Yangon.

"I don't know if the current government will seize power if they lose or not, but I hope they won't."

The NLD recorded a landslide in the last elections it contested in 1990 only for the army to ignore the result and double down on its repressive rule.

But in a televised statement before Sunday's election, President Thein Sein said both the ruling party and the army would respect the result.

Buoyant red-clad supporters of Ms Suu Kyi's NLD sang and danced for a second night on Monday outside the party base in Yangon, cheering each confirmed win as expectations of a landslide mounted.

But on Tuesday morning, the big screen and loudspeakers, which 24 hours earlier carried an impromptu address by Ms Suu Kyi, were suddenly removed.

Washington welcomed the "peaceful and historic" election but nonetheless urged caution until official results were announced.

Election officials have estimated an 80 per cent turnout, a figure observers say will aid the NLD's quest for a majority, but it could take days for the full results to be officially announced.

The European Union on Monday urged all sides to accept the results of Myanmar's election.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the vote was a "historic milestone on the country's road to democracy" and said it was contested in an "overall calm, peaceful and organised way".

"The impressive turnout on the election day bears testimony to the commitment of Myanmar's voters to the continued democratisation of the country," she said in a statement.

"In the post-elections period, it will be critical for all sides to accept the results in a spirit of national unity and reconciliation."

EU election observers will give their preliminary findings on the vote on Tuesday, she added.

President Thein Sein and the still-powerful army chief have both vowed to respect the outcome of the election - even if the main military-backed USDP party loses its choke-hold on power.

A win for the NLD would a dramatic leap forward for the South-east Asian nation, which suffered for decades under the iron grip of a junta that kept Ms Suu Kyi under house arrest for years.