Myanmar's neighbors have called for a lifting of sanctions after the elections
State TV confirms that Suu Kyi's party won 43 of the 44 seats it contested
It will still only hold a small fraction of the 664 seats in the Myanmar legislature
The sweeping victory of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in recent elections has been confirmed by state media.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, or NLD, won 43 of the 44 seats it contested in the by-elections that took place Sunday, the government’s official MRTV reported late Tuesday, confirming the NLD’s own estimates of the results.
The other seat went to the Shan Party in Myanmar’s Shan State, MRTV said.
While control of parliament will not change despite the opposition’s strong performance, it nonetheless gives the NLD and Suu Kyi a notable presence in the country’s parliament.
Myanmar’s legislature has 664 seats, more than 80% of which are still held by lawmakers aligned with the military-backed ruling party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
The 45 seats under contention in Sunday’s elections were vacancies created by the promotion of parliamentarians to the Cabinet and other posts last year.
The vote itself also marked an important step forward for many in the country who have lived under military rule for 50 years.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a regional organizations of which Myanmar is a member, on Tuesday called on other countries around the globe to lift sanctions on Myanmar following “the orderly, fair, transparent and peaceful manner” in which it said the elections had been conducted.
Myanmar had invited election observers from ASEAN members as well as the United States and the European Union.
The NLD fielded a candidate for every one of the 45 seats up for grabs. But the election commission rejected one candidate, apparently because his parents had foreign residency. The NLD has said it plans to challenge his exclusion. The USDP won that seat, according to state television.
The party also said it had noted numerous voting irregularities during the elections and planned to file a complaint in order to improve the system in the future.
Suu Kyi has said she has no regrets about taking part in the by-elections because the process has raised people’s political awareness.
A White House statement Monday congratulated Suu Kyi and the people of Myanmar, also known as Burma.
“This election is an important step in Burma’s democratic transformation, and we hope it is an indication that the government of Burma intends to continue along the path of greater openness, transparency, and reform,” the White House statement said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also commended the country “for the peaceful and largely orderly manner” in which the elections were held, according to his spokesperson.
Suu Kyi, 66, led her party to a landslide victory the last time Myanmar held multiparty elections, in 1990. But the junta ignored the results and placed her under house arrest.
Released in November 2010, Suu Kyi was allowed to crisscross the country to rally support for the NLD for Sunday’s race.
The United States announced in January that it would exchange ambassadors with Myanmar after the regime released political prisoners.