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Myanmar: Suu Kyi's party claims victory in polls

November 10, 2020

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) is on its way to secure a majority in Myanmar's parliament despite criticism that thousands of Rohingya Muslims had been excluded from the democratic process.

Protesters celebrate NLD's victory in Myanmar (Shwe Paw Mya Tin/REUTERS)

Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) on Monday claimed victory in the parliamentary elections, a day after the country went to the polls amidst international criticism over the disenfranchisement of the minority Rohingya Muslim community.

"I can now confirm that we're now securing more than 322 seats," said Monywa Aung Shin, a spokesperson for the party, signaling a majority in the 642-seat parliament. "We were aiming to secure 377 seats in total. But it would be likely more than that." 

Read more: Myanmar: Suu Kyi favored to win general election

The Union Election Commission began announcing results on Monday, but it may take as long as a week for all results to be released. So far, only nine winners had been announced, all belonging to the NLD.

Suu Kyi's stronghold

Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi's ruling party won a landslide victory in the last election in 2015 — the first polls after the nation emerged from nearly five decades of the military rule in 2011.

The NLD government has been hampered by a clause in the 2008 army-drafted constitution that gives the military 25% of the seats in the country's parliament, allowing it to block constitutional reforms.

Read more: Myanmar army blocks Aung San Suu Kyi’s bid to reduce military power

Despite concerns about the likelihood of violence during the election, the People's Alliance for Credible Elections (PACE), one of the biggest election monitors in the Southeast Asian country, reported that Sunday voting was largely peaceful.

Read more: Coronavirus and security issues cast a pall over Myanmar polls

Disenfranchised minorities

Once seen as a stalwart of democracy in the region, Suu Kyi has seen a fall from grace in the international community for her handling of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. A major concern during the 2020 election was the disenfranchisement of millions of Rohingya Muslims, many of whom have been stripped of fundamental civil rights.

Read more: Does Myanmar soldiers' murder confession prove Rohingya genocide?

"A core principle of elections under international law is universal and equal suffrage, and that is not what took place yesterday [Sunday] ," said Ismail Wolff, regional director of the Fortify Rights organization. 

"The international community must unequivocally condemn the disenfranchisement of Rohingya and other ethnic nationalities or risk paving the path for future violations," he added.

Myanmar election: voters set to cast ballots amid COVID-19

see/shs (AP, AFP)