YANGON (AFP) – Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) said yesterday it was confident of winning a landslide victory in Myanmar as official results trickled in following the weekend’s coronavirus-disrupted election.
Millions lined up for hours to cast their ballots on Sunday – only the second national election since the country emerged from outright military rule in 2011.
Nobel laureate Suu Kyi remains a heroine for many in the Bamar majority heartlands, in spite of a global reputation left in tatters by her handling of the Rohingya crisis and widespread disillusionment in many ethnic minority areas. NLD supporters celebrated late into the night on Sunday – and hundreds more drove in convoys north of Yangon yesterday, wearing red and flying the party’s fighting peacock flag.
Party spokesman Myo Nyunt told AFP that information from party agents across the country suggested the NLD had “won a landslide victory”.
“We won’t only win the 322 seats we need to form a government but we expect to break our 2015 record of 390.”
In 2015, the NLD won a landslide but was forced by the constitution into an uneasy power-sharing agreement with the military, which controls three key ministries and a quarter of parliamentary seats.
The military-aligned USDP opposition, Myanmar’s next biggest party, said it was still collecting information and would not comment.
Official confirmation of the overall result is not expected for another few days.
Spiralling coronavirus cases did not deter millions from voting on Sunday.
Face masks were compulsory, but crowds ignored strict physical distancing measures at many polling stations at a time when swathes of the country are in a lockdown.
Suu Kyi refused to delay the polls and many observers fear the day could have been one huge super-spreader event.
But voter Kyaw Min Han, 65, told AFP he had been “very impressed” with the government’s organisation as well as polling station staff and volunteers. Rights groups slammed the election, however, which saw nearly two million disenfranchised from an electorate of 37 million.
The polls were cancelled in many ethnic minority areas for “security reasons” – while nearly all of the country’s remaining 600,000 Rohingya have long been stripped of citizenship and rights.
“A core principle of elections under international law is universal and equal suffrage and that is not what took place,” said Ismail Wolff from Fortify Rights.