Suu Kyi’s party wins historic majority in Burma election
Issued on: Modified:
The party of democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi has won a majority in Burma’s (also known as Myanmar) parliament, the election commission said on Friday, giving it enough seats to elect the new president.
The victory of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) will allow her to sweep out an old guard of former generals that has run Burma since President Thein Sein ushered in a raft of democratic and economic reforms four years ago.
Although all the final results have yet to be released, the election commission announced on Friday that the NLD had won 348 seats in parliament – more than enough for an absolute majority.
With Suu Kyi’s victory confirmed, the focus will quickly shift to NLD’s presidential candidate and its plans for government.
The vote for the presidency will take place after the new parliament members take their seats in February. The president will assume power by the end of March.
Suu Kyi is barred from becoming president by the junta-drafted constitution because her children are foreign nationals.
But she has already vowed to govern from "above the president", saying she will circumnavigate the ban by appointing a proxy for the top office.
“He will have no authority. He will act in accordance with the decisions of the party,” Suu Kyi said in an interview with Channel News Asia, adding that the president would be “told exactly what he can do”.
Call for ‘reconciliation talks’
In the days running up to Friday’s announcement, Suu Kyi called for “national reconciliation talks” with Thein Sein and army chief Min Aung Hlaing.
Both men have congratulated the NLD on its election performance and have vowed to abide by the result as well as help a peaceful transition of power.
Thein Sein's ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, which is made up of former military cadres, has been mauled at the election.
Yet the president, a former general who swapped his uniform for civilian clothes to lead the government in 2011, has won praise for steering the reforms that culminated in Sunday's peaceful poll.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Suu Kyi for her election win, but also hailed the "courage and vision" of Thein Sein for "leadership in the reform process".
The international community has welcomed the election, with US President Barack Obama calling both Suu Kyi and the president to offer his congratulations.
Ahead of the election the US hinted it could rollback more sanctions in reward for a successful and peaceful election.
Obama has staked immense political capital in Burma's transition from authoritarian rule to an emergent democracy, backing the NLD's polar force Suu Kyi and visiting the country twice in the last four years.
Yet the country's military is not about to disappear. It retains major influence with its parliamentary bloc which effectively assures a veto over constitutional change.
It also has key ministerial posts reserved under the charter.
Many NLD supporters remain deeply suspicious of the army and its political allies, who are notorious for dirty tricks and crackdowns that have left hundreds dead and thousands jailed.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)