Suu Kyi's party wins enough seats to form Myanmar's new government

The ruling party of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has won enough parliamentary seats to form the next government, according to official results of a general election released on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at a school in Kawhmu, Yangon, Myanmar, July 18, 2019.
FILE PHOTO: Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi arrives at a school in Kawhmu, Yangon, Myanmar, July 18, 2019. © REUTERS/Ann Wang/File Photo

The latest batch of results from the Nov. 8 election confirmed Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party had secured the 322 seats in the bicameral legislature needed to form the next government.

The NLD has taken 346 seats of the 412 seats that have so far been declared, with 64 more seats still up for grabs and yet to be announced.

Sunday's election was viewed as a referendum on the fledgling democratic government led by Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD), which remains very popular at home but has seen its overseas reputation battered by accusations of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Up for grabs were 315 seats in the 425-member lower house and 161 seats in the 217-seat upper house of parliament.

The European Union and Britain commended Myanmar for the vote but criticised the disenfranchisement of more than a million voters, including hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the polls marked an important step in Myanmar's democratic transition, although Washington had concerns about the large number of seats reserved for the military and the disfranchisement of groups including the Rohingya.

In a statement, he also expressed concern about the cancellation of voting in parts of several states and regions and the disqualification of candidates "based on arbitrary application of citizenship and residency requirements".

Some unable to vote 

The military, which ruled Myanmar for nearly 50 years until it began withdrawing from civilian politics in 2011, controls a quarter of seats in both houses of parliament under a constitution it drew up and which Suu Kyi wants to amend.

The NLD had been expected to win but with a smaller margin following the emergence of new parties and ethnic minority parties gaining support in some regions.

Political analyst Yan Myo Thein said early results showed ethnic parties had won some seats in Kayah, Mon and Shan states, where many people harbour grievances against the central government, but the overall picture was of another NLD landslide.

The results, he said, "show that the majority of people don’t want...the involvement of the military in politics and the majority of people still continue to recognise and support Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the NLD, as their leader".

In contrast to the wave of optimism that greeted the NLD's 2015 win, Myanmar held this election amid a surge in Covid-19 infections, economic hardships and escalating ethnic conflicts.

More than a million people were unable to vote after polls were cancelled due to insurgencies.

In Rakhine state, where Rohingya Muslims are confined to camps and villages and mostly denied the vote because they are not citizens, the vast majority of polling stations were closed due to fighting between government troops and ethnic insurgents.

Myo Kyaw, general secretary of the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD), said the Rakhine nationalist Arakan National Party (ANP) had won most seats contested in the state.

The Democracy and Human Rights Party, a Rohingya party, said it was "utterly disappointed" that its people had been disenfranchised.

The government does not consider most Rohingya Myanmar citizens but instead migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, even though many can trace family roots back many generations.

The United Nations has said there was genocidal intent in a 2017 army crackdown that forced 730,000 Rohingya to flee to Bangladesh. Myanmar says its security forces were carrying out legitimate operations against Rohingya militants.


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