Date
24 January 2017
Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi cheer as they watch partial election results on a TV monitor in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Sunday. Photo: Reuters
Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi cheer as they watch partial election results on a TV monitor in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

Myanmar votes amid claims of irregularities

Myanmar held its first free nationwide election on Sunday, with supporters of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi warning that cheating could derail the country’s journey to democracy.

Just after polls closed, thousands of boisterous supporters thronged to her party’s headquarters in Yangon. 

They cheered or waved the red flags of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy each time a ballot was marked for the party during a live telecast of the count carried on a large display screen, the the Wall Street Journal reported.

Suu Kyi herself wasn’t there; a party official thanked the crowd for turning out.

“Already, it looks like we are ahead of the other parties,” he said, setting off another round of cheers.

It will take several days before a full picture of the results emerges.

Suu Kyi herself won’t become the president. She is barred from the post by the constitution because her late husband and her two sons are foreign nationals.

The incoming parliament will instead elect one of three as yet-unidentified candidates to become president by next March.

The NLD is aiming to win more than two-thirds of the available seats in the 664-member body to gain an absolute majority that offsets a quarter of the seats that are reserved for the military.

The party alleged Sunday that the country’s election commission was attempting to manipulate the vote by issuing some people with extra ballot slips.

It has also questioned the conduct of advanced voting, which was done behind closed doors at military bases and government facilities.

The NLD may cite these irregularities to try to discredit the vote if it doesn’t get the result it seeks, the newspaper said.

At a news conference on Thursday, Suu Kyi described the election as “patently not free and fair”.

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RA/CG

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