Myanmar election landslide earns Suu Kyi chance to choose president

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Official election results Friday confirmed that Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party had won a parliamentary majority in Myanmar’s historic polls, exactly five years after the pro-democracy leader was released from house arrest.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) has so far won 238 seats in the lower house and 126 in the upper house in Sunday’s poll, the Union Election Commission (UEC) announced, giving the party an overall majority in parliament.

The landslide means the NLD will be able to ensure that their preferred nominee becomes the next president, in a country dominated for decades by the military.

The current president is former army general Thein Sein from the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which has so far won just 40 seats in the national parliament.

However, the military is still expected to retain a large influence as a quarter of the seats in both houses of parliament were not contested in the election, and are instead reserved for military appointees.

Suu Kyi is barred from holding the presidency due to the terms of Myanmar’s constitution, but has said she will run the government from “above the president” after the country’s first openly contested elections in a quarter of a century.

She is due to meet the country’s most important powerbrokers to discuss the transition of power.

As the scale of the NLD’s victory became clear on Wednesday, she sent letters asking to meet Thein Sein, military chief Min Aung Hlaing and House Speaker Shwe Mann.

All three had previously congratulated her party on its victory and agreed to the meeting, although no date has been set.

Shwe Mann, who has been seen as closer to Suu Kyi than most within the USDP, said after the NLD landslide was confirmed that he was “also a winner as this is the victory of people although I lost my seat in the election.”

“I will continue working for the people and the country by all means,” he said.

Shwe Mann has been seen as one of the frontrunners for the presidency, although the post is not set to be decided until March next year when Thein Sein’s term expires.

It has been a dramatic five years for Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi. On November 13, 2010, she was released from house arrest, after spending 15 of the previous 21 years confined to her home by the military junta.

The NLD also won convincingly in the last elections that it contested, in 1990, only to have the results annulled by the junta.

Leading USDP officials have accepted that the party lost this year’s poll, and said that they will accept the results.

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