Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Is Myanmar about to return to democracy?

Early results in Sunday's election in Myanmar, which opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi described as not fair but "largely free" point to a sweeping victory for her National League for Democracy (NLD).

However, final official results will not be known for days. The election was seen as the most democratic in Myanmar for 25 years.

A quarter of Myanmar's 664 parliamentary seats are set aside for the army, and for the NLD to form a government it will need at least two-thirds of the contested seats.

But Ms Suu Kyi told the BBC that her party that despite "areas of intimidation" she believes her party has surpassed that, and has won around 75%.

About 30 million people were eligible to vote in Sunday's election in Myanmar. Turnout was estimated at about 80%. But hundreds of thousands of people - including the Rohingya Muslims, who are not recognised as citizens - were denied voting rights.

Ms Suu Kyi,  told the BBC that an NLD government would protect Muslims, and added that those who inflame hatred should face prosecution. She said:

"Prejudice is not removed easily and hatred is not going to be removed easily... I'm confident the great majority of the people want peace… they do not want to live on a diet of hate and fear."

A quarter of a century ago Ms Suu Kyi's party won an election, and the generals promptly annulled it. She says she is confident that the same thing will not happen this time. Please God she is right.

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