Historic vote was seen as a test of the powerful military's acceptance of democracy
Her party's win comes on the fifth anniversary of her release from house arrest
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a historic majority in Myanmar’s parliament, marking the nation’s rejection of decades of military rule.
While the results haven’t been officially certified, the win by the National League for Democracy means it will choose the country’s next President.
The announcement, made by the election commission Friday, comes on the fifth anniversary of Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest, where the 70-year-old had been for the better part of 20 years.
Sunday’s elections were the first freely held in the nation in 25 years. Suu Kyi herself was reelected to her seat in the Kawhmu constituency in Yangon.
Barred from the top spot
Despite her party’s win, the leader of Myanmar’s long-fought democracy movement can’t become President.
A change in Myanmar’s constitution, drafted by the military, prevents anyone with foreign family members from becoming the nation’s leader.
Suu Kyi’s late husband was British. Her children hold British passports.
Still, she’s pushing forward.
She said last week she would be “above the President” if her party won the parliamentary election.
But complicating any efforts to change the rules in the future, the military also has an effective veto over any proposed constitutional changes.
Landmark elections in Myanmar
Military still holds many of the cards
It will take at least another week to tabulate all the results, a presidential spokesman said.
The landmark election is seen as a test of the powerful military’s willingness to let the country continue along a path toward full democracy, after decades of military-dominated rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
Thein Sein has promised that the outcome of Sunday’s vote will be respected, but the system is already configured strongly in favor of the military, which gets to appoint a quarter of all lawmakers in the two houses of parliament.
Free and fair?
The changes ushered in under Thein Sein since 2011 have helped reduce the country’s international isolation, with Western sanctions being eased and foreign investment starting to ramp up.
But human rights groups have warned of a rise in politically motivated arrests as well as discrimination directed against the Muslim minority, notably the stateless Rohingya population.
Questions have come up over how free and fair the current election will turn out to be. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, expressed concern last week about irregularities in advance voting, fraud and intimidation.
Many people still remember the last national election her party contested, in 1990, which it was widely considered to have won. But the military rulers annulled the results and placed Suu Kyi and many of her colleagues under arrest.
Suu Kyi, the daughter of an independence leader, spent much of the next two decades under house arrest, becoming an internationally recognized symbol of democracy and the country’s most popular politician.
After the outcome of the parliamentary vote is decided, lawmakers will begin the complex process of choosing a president.