Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi predicted Tuesday that her National League for Democracy (NLD) party would win a majority in parliament as votes from nationwide general elections continued to be tallied, amid some criticism by international monitoring groups about shortcomings in the polling process.
Aung San Suu Kyi, 70, said the NLD would win about 75 percent of the seats in the 440-seat legislature, solidifying a landslide victory over the ruling military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
But Tin Oo, an 88-year-old retired general who supports Aung San Suu Kyi, told RFA’s Myanmar Service that the NLD won 80 percent, although the official results are still unknown.
The latest official tally by the Union Election Commission, which oversees the country’s polls, put the NLD way ahead with 78 seats in the lower house of parliament, 29 seats in the upper house and 142 seats in state and regional legislatures. Election officials said it would likely take several days for all votes to be counted.
The USDP, which holds about 75 percent of elected seats in the current parliament, is trailing considerably, winning only five seats in the lower house, two in the upper house and 12 in state and regional legislatures.
Five ethnic parties and independent candidates have won five seats in the lower house and two in the upper house.
The results prompted Htay Oo, acting USDP leader, who lost his seat in the Irrawaddy River town of Hinthada, to concede defeat to the NLD.
The NLD needs to win at least 67 percent of the seats up for grabs in both houses of parliament to form a government, but the 75 percent of seats that Aung San Suu Kyi believes it will receive would propel the party over the threshold to become a formidable challenge to military lawmakers, who are guaranteed 25 percent of parliamentary seats under a constitution they wrote in 2008.
President Thein Sein said previously that the USDP and military would respect the results of the elections.
Lack of transparency
A group of 150 monitors from the European Union who observed voting at more than 500 polling stations said that although the elections were well-run overall and showed little evidence of being tainted by fraud, they indicated some lack of transparency.
The UEC, for instance denied the EU observers access to advance voting in army barracks inside Myanmar, despite a previous guarantee by the country’s military commander-in-chief that they would be permitted to observe polling there.
“Now, one aspect of which our mission has been critical of and remains critical of is the out-of-constituency advanced voting,” said Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, leader of the EU monitoring mission, speaking Tuesday about the mission’s preliminary findings at a press conference in the commercial capital Yangon.
Furthermore, the handling of the appeals process for a number of Muslim candidates who were barred from contesting because they had to meet onerous citizenship requirements, also lacked transparency, he said.
The Asian Network For Free Elections (ANFREL) monitoring group accused the UEC of failing to coordinate with state, division and township level election sub-commissions.
“The communications between the UEC and sub-commissions is sometimes not very clear,” said Damaso G. Magbual, ANFREL’s chairman, adding that the election body issued directives in some cases but not in others.
UEC chairman Tin Aye angrily concluded a press conference after a reporter questioned him about a dispute over advanced voting for a lower house seat in the town of Lashio in northeastern Myanmar’s Shan state.
The issued concerned more than 3,800 advance votes for Sai Mauk Kham, one of Myanmar’s two current vice presidents and a lower house USDP candidate in Lashio, which reportedly arrived after polling closed on Sunday, the online journal The Irrawaddy reported.
Three political parties filed a complaint with the township election commission, who said the votes had arrived from military cantonment areas, the report said.
“Why did we have more than 10,000 advance votes in Lashio?” Tin Aye said. “We had more than 3,000 advance voters, and each had tried to vote for three parliamentarians at least. We already explained this, that’s why we will end the press conference.”
Who will be president?
Newly elected lawmakers will assume their positions in the National Assembly in February, and vote for one of three presidential candidates put forward by each house and the bloc of military representatives. Whoever is selected will assume office in March.
A clause in the country’s current constitution which was drafted in 2008 by the military junta that ruled the country, however, bars Aung San Suu Kyi from becoming president because her late husband was a foreign national, as are her two sons, to limit her political power.
Despite this, she has said the NLD would put forward another politician to assume the presidency, while she would be “above the president” and run the government.
The NLD had swept previous elections in 1990, but the then-ruling junta ignored the results and placed Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for more than a decade.
The NLD boycotted the 2010 elections in which Thein Sein’s military-backed government took power, amid concerns they were not free and fair.
Reported by Moe Klyar Oo, Aung Theinkh, Win Naung Toe and Khin Maung Soe for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.