30 million people eligible to vote

Campaigning in Myanmar has ended and voters go to the polls on Sunday for the nation's most important election since 1990, when military rulers refused to hand power to the victors. The generals loosened their grip in 2010, allowing a vote that was easily won by their political arm because the main opposition boycotted the poll. Here's a look at the key facts and figures:

•Annual growth has averaged more than 7 per cent since the 2010 election, helped by foreign investment that financed infrastructure and boosted low-cost manufacturing, alongside an increase in tourism.

•About 30 million of Myanmar's 52 million people are eligible to vote for three quarters of the 664 seats in the two Houses of Parliament. The remaining 25 per cent are reserved for military-backed candidates.

•The new legislature then elects the President, with the two chambers of Parliament each proposing a candidate and a third offered by the military.

•The opposition National League for Democracy is seen as having the best chance of winning, due in large part to the popularity of its leader, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.

•President Thein Sein's Union Solidarity and Development Party has guided Myanmar's opening since the junta was officially dissolved in 2011, though its close ties to the military have sapped its popular support.

•Myanmar shares a border of more than 2,000km with China and about 1,500km with India. China has financed construction of a natural gas pipeline and oil pipeline linking its Yunnan province to the Bay of Bengal through Myanmar. India is backing plans for transnational highways and railways through Myanmar to Thailand and markets beyond.

•More than one million ethnic Rohingya - who are stateless - are denied the right to vote. They and other Muslims have been marginalised by the government and targeted by militant Buddhists.

•The country has faced armed ethnic insurgencies for decades. While the government has sponsored peace talks, only eight militant groups signed a ceasefire pact this month. Seven other groups, including the two largest, refused to sign a final accord.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2015, with the headline '30 million people eligible to vote'. Print Edition | Subscribe