NLD official winner of Myanmar polls

The comfortable win will be a welcome boost for Ms Suu Kyi, who has had a turbulent first term.
The comfortable win will be a welcome boost for Ms Suu Kyi, who has had a turbulent first term.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

YANGON - Myanmar’s election commission officially confirmed the victory of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy on Friday (Nov 13), as the powerful military steered clear of demands by some that it help restage the Nov 8 general election.

By Friday afternoon, the NLD had officially won at least 384 out of the 476 seats contested, putting it on track to better its commanding performance in the 2015 polls. 

Votes are still being tallied.

The second election since the end of junta rule in Myanmar was held amid a raging coronavirus pandemic, but one that voters generally shrugged off to hand the NLD a strong mandate under the country’s power-sharing system.

The 2008 junta-drafted Constitution guarantees the military control of a quarter of all parliamentary seats as well as the defence, border affairs and home affairs ministry.

The biggest loser in the Nov 8 polls was the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), widely seen as a proxy of the military, which saw several of its assumed-to-be “safe” seats snatched by the NLD.

In an indignant press conference on Wednesday, the USDP alleged massive irregularities and demanded the election be held again with help from the military.

But the military distanced itself from this demand.

“Whatever the USDP said wasn’t discussed with the Tatmadaw,” Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun, a military spokesman, told BBC Burmese on Thursday (Nov 12), using the local term for the armed forces.

He reaffirmed the comments made by military chief Min Aung Hlaing, who had said that he would “accept people’s wishes” when he cast his ballot on Sunday (Nov 8).

The Tatmadaw even made what looked like a tentative overture to the Arakan Army, an ethnic Rakhine armed group with which it remains locked in fierce battle, in Rakhine state.

Labelled a terrorist group by the government, the Arakan Army is shut out of peace talks that involve several other ethnic armed groups. In the lead-up to the Nov 8 polls, it kidnapped three NLD candidates. Voting in much of the state was cancelled over security concerns.

On Thursday, the Arakan Army said it would extend its “unilateral ceasefire” until Dec 31 and urged the authorities to hold by-elections in Rakhine state as soon as possible to ensure people were represented in parliament.

The Tatmadaw said it welcomed the statement and that it “will coordinate as much as possible to hold by-elections in the remaining areas”.

The NLD meanwhile has reached out to ethnic minority parties to work together to end Myanmar’s civil wars and create a democratic federal union.

In a letter to 48 political parties made public on Thursday, it said: “The ethnic parties’ objectives are the same as the NLD’s and the NLD would prioritise the ethnic’s desires in the future.”

Observers hope this would mark a reset of relations between the NLD and ethnic minority groups, which had soured over the past five years amid faltering peace negotiations. While several ethnic minority parties banded together for the Nov 8 election, they made little headway under Myanmar’s first-past-the-post system.

Ms Thinzar Shunlei Yi, advocacy coordinator of the Yangon-based Action Committee for Democracy Development, called for the NLD to show some “political will”.

“They should first start a dialogue to build understanding among the leaders, which will send a message about mutual respect to the next generation,” she told The Straits Times.