Myanmar’s president congratulates opposition leader in election win

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Myanmar’s President Thein Sein congratulated the country’s democratic opposition leader on Wednesday for her party’s victory after the country’s first openly contested elections in 25 years.

Military chief Min Aung Hlaing also congratulated Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate whose National League for Democracy (NLD) appeared to have secured a landslide victory against the army-backed establishment in Sunday’s election.

“We lost,” said Htay Oo, acting chairman of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

“We accept the defeat, and respect the results,” he told dpa by phone.

The NLD had won 256 out of 299 counted seats across the lower and upper houses as of 6 pm (1130 GMT) Wednesday, the Union Election Commission (UEC) said.

Suu Kyi’s party had also so far won a majority of 230 out of 267 seats across 14 regional assemblies.

With 179 seats secured in parliament’s lower house, the NLD will be able to nominate at least one of the three presidential nominees.

The party needs a combined 329 seats in the two houses of parliament to give it a majority and allow it to select the next president.

The USDP had just 17 of the elected seats in the lower house and four in the upper house, according to the latest UEC results.

The military retains an automatic 25 per cent of the seats in each house.

As it became clear that the NLD would win the election, Suu Kyi on Wednesday called for meetings with the president, army chief and house speaker.

She sent letters to ask to see President Thein Sein, military chief Min Aung Hlaing and House Speaker Shwe Mann next week, party officials said.

The peaceful implementation of the people’s will shown through the elections is very important for the dignity of the country, Suu Kyi said in the letters.

Shwe Mann posted on Facebook that he had agreed to the meeting “to discuss not only the issues mentioned in the letter, but also others.”

Thein Sein said he would arrange a meeting with the country’s leaders, in response to Suu Kyi’s request.

Thein Sein would organize the meeting attended by himself, Suu Kyi, military chief Min Aung Hlaing and Speaker Shwe Mann, but only after official electoral procedures had completely finished, Information Minister Ye Htut said on his Facebook page.

Observers expressed caution as they welcomed the election results.

The US observer mission said that the Muslim ethnic Rohingya group was not enfranchised, while the EU representative pointed to the military’s reserved seats as an obstacle to full democracy.

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