Results from Myanmar's historic election are not final, but opposition leaders are convinced of success. The NLD wants to oust representatives from the former ruling junta party.
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) has said that the opposition party was on track to win more than 70 percent of seats around the country, and up to 80 percent of the vote.
In the first official results, the election commission (UEC) said the NLD won all 12 of the seats in the area around former capital and Myanmar's main city of Yangon, a stronghold of the opposition party.
The commission also announced that the party had won all 20 seats in Yangon's regional parliament, and confirmed that 25 seats had gone to the NLD in the lower house - 18 in Yangon and five in the country's second city Mandalay, both areas where the party is expected to sweep the vote.
The NLD has also won all 38 seats in Ayeyarwaddy state, all but one of the 40 in Bago, and 11 out of 19 lower house seats and all 10 upper house seats in Mon state. The trend was expected to continue in the remaining 10 states, although official results from there have not yet been announced.
As the NLD declared a decisive victory, hundreds of people gathered outside the opposition party's headquarters in Yangon, where images of Suu Kyi were being shown on large screens.
"She's the people's leader who the whole world knows," the crowds sang in support of Suu Kyi outside of the party's headquarters. "Write your own history in your hearts for our future so the dictatorship will end. Go, go, go away dictatorship," the crowd continued. A sign held by one of the demonstrators read "We're tired of the military, mother Suu will bring change... It starts tonight." Many supporters were cheering and singing even before any formal results were published, hoping that Myanmar would finally be freed from the hold of its military, which ruled the country for a half-century until 2011 and has continued to be highly influential ever since.
Meanwhile, the ruling Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP), made up former junta members, appeared increasingly beleaguered, taking just two lower house seats so far.
At the same time, the NLD also won 87 of the 90 seats in the Yangon state legislature, as elections for regional parliaments were held simultaneously.
Suu Kyi waves to the crowd after delivering a speech from the balcony of the NLD headquarters in Yangon
Openly contested elections
More than 90 different parties participated in the elections, but it has been the battle between the NLD and the USDP that has drawn the most attention. The latter is made up of members of the former ruling junta, which stepped down in 2011 to make way for a civilian-run government.
"This election has given the people an opportunity to voice their will, and the groundswell of people's support provides some sense of solace for the people who have suffered and made sacrifices for the past 30 years," said Ko Ko Gyi, a former student leader and one of thousands of people imprisoned during the military's rule.
The United States called Myanmar's general elections "a victory for the Burmese people."
In the country's first openly competed elections after 25 years, three-quarters of the seats are being contested, with the remaining quarter reserved for the military. Regardless, the race was a momentous occasion for the 30 million people eligible to vote, many of whom were participating in an election for the first time.
The run-up to the election did draw some criticism, most notably for the decision to allow half a million members of the country's Muslim minority to take part in the voting. An EU team led by European Parliament Vice President Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, which has been monitoring the elections, is expected to determine the fairness of the voting system.
dr/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)