Asia

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi: NLD has won election majority

  • 10 November 2015
  • From the section Asia
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Media captionAung San Suu Kyi says people are "far more politicised" now

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi has told the BBC she believes her party has won a parliamentary majority, in her first interview since the historic elections.

Early results point to a sweeping victory for her National League for Democracy (NLD), but final official results will not be known for days.

The election was seen as the most democratic in Myanmar for 25 years.

In an interview with the BBC's Fergal Keane, Ms Suu Kyi said the polls were not fair but "largely free".

She said there had been "areas of intimidation".

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

But Ms Suu Kyi told the BBC that her party has surpassed that, and has won around 75%.

The military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) has been in power in Myanmar since 2011 when the country began its transition from decades of military rule to a civilian government.

Decision making in the Delta

Image caption Farm worker Myint Tin believes an NLD victory would inevitably ease the tough and insecure life she currently leads

Read Jonathan Head's report to find out what happened in crucial town of Hinthada

His report from the campaign trail portrayed a sleepy market town in Myanmar's watery heartland

Fergal Keane, BBC News, Yangon

Aung San Suu Kyi was brimming with confidence. This was a leader who strongly sensed her hour had come.

"The times have changed, the people have changed," she said.

On the vexing question of the presidency from which she is constitutionally barred, she repeated she would make the big decisions while a colleague holds the post, joking: "A rose by another name."

We met in the garden of the house where she had spent so many years under house arrest and where I first interviewed her 20 years ago.

From the symbol of an embattled and then fragile democracy movement she has become the steely leader of a government in waiting.

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'Delaying intentionally'

Results from Sunday's election are slowly being announced. The election commission says the NLD has taken 78 of the 88 seats announced so far for the 440-seat lower house of parliament.

Election monitors from the US-based Carter Center, who observed 245 polling stations, described the elections in most areas as "competitive and meaningful" with generally well-conducted voting and counting, reported Associated Press news agency.

The group noted several problems, however - including the barring of members of the country's Rohingya Muslim minority from voting, a lack of transparency in the advance voting process and inconsistency in making preliminary results available at the constituency level.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Large crowds gathered at the NLD headquarters in Yangon on Tuesday night for an early celebration

NLD spokesman Win Htein has accused the election commission of "delaying intentionally" the release of results, saying "they are trying to be crooked".

Whichever party wins, Ms Suu Kyi cannot be chosen as president because the constitution blocks people with foreign offspring from holding the post.

She has always said she would lead the country anyway.

On Tuesday she said she would find a president as required, but "that won't stop me from making all the decisions as the leader of the winning party".

When asked if this was fair, she said: "I believe in transparency and accountability... it works much better if I'm open about it, if I tell the people."

Clause 58 of the country's constitution states that the president "takes precedence over all other persons" in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

The selection of the president is not expected to take place until at least February.

Myanmar's historic election

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Millions of Burmese are waiting keenly for the official results

Four possible outcomes from a crucial election

Aung San Suu Kyi: international symbol of peaceful resistance

'Abandoned people': What rights do the Rohingya Muslims have?

Elections explained: Why does this vote matter?

Decision-making in the Delta: Jonathan Head on the small but crucial town of Hinthada

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, who are not recognised as citizens - were denied voting rights.

Ms Suu Kyi, whose party like many others did not field a Muslim candidate, has been criticised by some for failing to speak up more for Muslims, who have been targeted by ultra-nationalist Buddhist groups.

She 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 peaceā€¦ they do not want to live on a diet of hate and fear."