NAYPYITAW/HINTHADA: Myanmar’s ruling party conceded defeat on Monday in a general election as the opposition led by democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi appeared on course for a landslide victory that could ensure it forms the next government.
“We lost,” Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) acting chairman Htay Oo said a day after the Southeast Asian country’s first free nationwide election in a quarter of a century.
By late afternoon on Monday, vendors outside the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Yangon were selling red T-shirts with Suu Kyi’s face and the words “We won”.
The election commission was announcing the results of Sunday’s election as they trickled in, constituency by constituency. Suu Kyi’s party won 49 of the first 54 seats declared for the lower house, where 330 seats were contested.
The keenly watched vote was Myanmar’s first general election since its long-ruling military ceded power to President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government in 2011, ushering in a period of reform and opening up to foreign investment.
The NLD said its own tally of results posted at polling stations around the country showed it was on track to win more than 70% of the seats being contested in parliament, above the two-thirds threshold it needs to form Myanmar’s first democratically elected government since the early 1960s.
“They must accept the results, even though they don’t want to,” NLD spokesman Win Htein said, adding that in the populous central region, the Nobel peace laureate’s party looked set to take more than 90% of seats.
Traffic squeezed at a walking pace through the jubilant crowd outside the NLD headquarters. Hundreds of people, many sporting the party’s colour of red and a peacock logo, waved flags and cheered as results were announced.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2015.