Myanmar election: Aung San Suu Kyi calls for reconciliation talks with military
|Supporters of Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy watch the vote counting in Yangon. Photograph: U Aung/Xinhua Press/Corbis|
By Oliver Holmes
November 11, 2015
November 11, 2015
Opposition leader wants meeting with president and commander-in-chief to discuss next steps as National League for Democracy takes 90% of declared seats
Aung San Suu Kyi has won her own seat in Myanmar’s election, fresh results revealed on Wednesday, with her National League for Democracy (NLD) party also taking 90% of seats declared so far.
In the wake of her win, Suu Kyi has written to the commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, president Thein Sein and House Speaker Shwe Mann requesting a meeting to discuss the election and “national reconciliation”, according to the National League for Democracy Facebook page.
Myanmar’s information minister, Ye Htut, said on his Facebook page on Wednesday the government had told Aung San Suu Kyi the meeting would take place only after all the election results had been announced. He added the president and the military would respect the outcome of the election.
Suu Kyi said last week that she will be “above the president”, despite the constitutional ban on her taking the top post, and has called for a national reconciliation government.
On Tuesday, Suu Kyi said the president will “have no authority” and “will act in accordance with the decisions of the party”.
The meeting, if it takes place, will be the start of what is expected to be months of political negotiations in Myanmar as to how power is shared with the long-standing military elite.
“The citizens have expressed their will in the election,” she said. “I would like to invite you to discuss reconciliation next week at a time of your convenience.”
The government’s Union Election Commission has released results in 10 stages over the three days since polling on Sunday, all of which have shown the NLD beating the incumbent Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) by wide margins.
Wednesday’s results also revealed the NLD had made gains across diverse areas of the country, despite earlier speculation that many from Myanmar’s 40% ethnic minority populations would vote for smaller parties, hampering the NLD’s chances of a majority.
“The really big surprise in these results wasn’t the drubbing that the USDP got, or the NLD landslide, it was the massive defeat suffered by most ethnic minority parties,” independent political analyst Richard Horsey said.
Horsey warned the defeat could blunt the voices of the nation’s minorities.
“For a country still emerging from six decades of civil war, it is a big concern if the parliament fails to reflect the diversity of the country,” he said.
There are 168 contested seats in the upper house of parliament and 330 in the lower house, although seven of those lower house seats were cancelled due to fighting with insurgent groups in border areas.
That amounts to a total of 491 seats to be contested in both houses, not including the 25% of seats that are automatically reserved for the army. Therefore, the NLD needs to win 67%, or 329 seats across the two houses, to gain a majority.
Less the half of the results have so far been announced in a painstakingly drawn-out process, with the NLD winning 211 seats across both houses of parliament, the USDP 12, and other parties nine.
Suu Kyi, who won her seat in Kawmhu, Yangon, said on Tuesday that her party had won 75% of contested seats. A senior NLD figure later told the Guardian that unofficial party results showed it had won 82% of contested seats.
The gains were so strong that a 53-year-old regional parliamentary candidate for the NLD won against the ruling party’s runner despite the fact that he died two days before the election while delivering a campaign speech.
Soe San Thet Htun, the lower house candidate for the NLD from the same area, told the News Watch Journal that the late Soe Myint won 22,000 votes against the USDP’s 8,000.
Leading ruling party figures such as Shwe Mann, the lower house of parliament speaker, and Htay Oo, the acting party chairman, have already conceded defeat in their constituencies.
The European Union mission observing the elections said the polls were well-run, with monitoring teams around the country reporting an overwhelmingly positive message about the conduct of the contest.
“The process went better than many expected beforehand,” chief observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said.
He added that dozens of international observers around the country “reported very positively on the voting … with 95% rating the process a ‘good’ or ‘very good’.”
However, while the USDP has been diminished and much of the decades-old establishment shaken by the extent of Suu Kyi’s victory, the army retains power.
In addition to its guaranteed bloc of parliamentary seats, the commander-in-chief nominates the heads of three powerful and big-budget ministries – interior, defence and border security – and the constitution also gives him the right to take over the government under certain circumstances.