Suu Kyi's NLD confirmed as winner of election

With at least 384 out of 476 seats contested, it's on track to better 2015 polls performance

Supporters of the National League for Democracy with banners of Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday.
Supporters of the National League for Democracy with banners of Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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

By yesterday 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 was 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 ministries.

The biggest loser in the 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 that 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, 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.

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.

  • PM Lee congratulates Aung San Suu Kyi on win

  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has congratulated Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, who chairs the National League for Democracy (NLD), on the party's victory in the Myanmar general election.

    "Congratulations on leading the National League for Democracy to another victory in Myanmar's General Elections. The results reflect the confidence and trust the people of Myanmar have placed in the NLD's leadership and vision for the country," Mr Lee wrote in a letter to Ms Suu Kyi, said a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press statement on Thursday.

    Noting that Myanmar and Singapore are old friends and longstanding partners, Mr Lee observed that the two nations have extensive cooperation in many areas, including trade and investment, financial and legal cooperation, infrastructure development, and capacity building.

    "Since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, we have worked together to maintain supply chains, share information and best practices, and assist our nationals living in each other's countries," Mr Lee wrote.

    "I look forward to working with you to strengthen our existing links and explore new areas of cooperation," Mr Lee said in the letter, adding that he wished Ms Suu Kyi continued success and good health, and hoped to welcome the NLD leader in Singapore again when her schedule permits.

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 said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2020, with the headline 'Suu Kyi's NLD confirmed as winner of election'. Print Edition | Subscribe