ITALIAN PM SENDS CONGRATULATIONS TO DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI
13:20 November 16, 2015
The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has sent a letter of congratulations to opposition Daw Aung San Suu Kyi over her National League for Democracy win in the November 8 elections.
In the letter he said the following:
“I would like to convey to You my sincerest congratulations for the extraordinary success of the National League for Democracy on the occasion of the historic general elections of November 8th.
“The holding of competitive and peaceful elections represents a milestone on Your Country's path towards democracy and I am confident that Your Party, supported by such a wide electoral consensus, will be able to lead Burmese people on the way towards progress in a spirit of unity and national reconciliation.
“Italy has been encouraging the democratic process in Myanmar since its beginning and stands ready to continue supporting the path of development and reforms in the spirit of close friendship shared by our Peoples.
“Looking forward to meeting You, I take this opportunity to express my warmest regards,” PM Renzi writes.
WHERE'S THE VICTORY RALLY? SUU KYI WAITS!
13:00 November 15, 2015
The National League for Democracy (NLD) has won an absolute majority in Parliament in the results sent in so far for the November 8 election. This means they have enough seats to form a government, control the legislature and select Myanmar's next president. This is, without doubt, a momentous victory for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD and its supporters.
There is, however, no sign of preparations for a celebration.
When the results were announced at noon on Friday, the party's headquarters were deserted; no songs, no chanting, no waving of NLD flags. This was a far cry from the huge rallies which took place in the same location on both Sunday and Monday and the roar of cheers as winning seats were announced.
The underwhelming pinnacle of the day's celebrations has so far been the unceremonious unveiling of a giant piece of graffiti artwork which depicts Daw Suu Kyi and the phrase “The Way We Trust”.
The results at noon on Friday were not the last of the results to be announced, 17% of seats were still unaccounted for. It is possible, therefore, that the party is simply waiting for the full results to be released and for their victory to be 'official'.
The NLD's victory has, however, been unofficially known for quite some time. On Tuesday, when still only a small fraction of the results had been announced, the party publicly said it expected to win a majority in both Houses.
Daw Suu Kyi told the BBC: “the results have been coming in steadily and we will probably get around 75% of the Union legislature”.
She has also been urging NLD supporters not to gloat and to keep celebrations measured.
On Tuesday morning, following enormous rallies on the two preceding days, she told a crowd of supporters not to provoke the losers: “I want to remind you all that even candidates who didn't win have to accept the winners but it is important not to provoke the candidates who didn't win to make them feel bad”.
On Wednesday, the incumbent Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) conceded defeat.
The President, Thein Sein, sent his congratulations to Daw Suu Kyi for “gathering the support of the people”.
He also issued a statement on his Facebook which said: “The government will respect and follow the people’s choice and decision, and work on transferring power peacefully according to the timetable”.
Myanmar has been praised internationally for its transition towards democracy. The process has been far from perfect, but many around the world acknowledge it as an important first step which has been carried out in a respectable way.
The President of the United States, Barack Obama, phoned President Thein Sein to commend him for the successful conduct for Myanmar's historic election.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, released a statement which said: “These landmark elections are an important step towards democracy in Burma and a triumph for Burmese people, who have clearly voiced their desire for change”. He added: “The UK stands ready to support the people of Burma as they continue to work towards a more democratic and accountable government, including those unable to vote in this election”.
(Reporting: James Coe)
US PRESIDENT CALLS PRESIDENT U THEIN SEIN
13:00 November 13, 2015
US President Barack Obama has talked on the phone with Myanmar President U Thein Sein, in the wake of the Myanmar election.
According to a press release, recounting the Nov. 12 call:
President Obama spoke last night by phone with President Thein Sein to offer his congratulations to the people of Myanmar for their participation in the historic parliamentary election on November 8, 2015.
"The President commended the efforts of the Union Election Commission and others in the government for their work with political parties, civil society, and the media to overcome the significant challenges in organizing and conducting the election.
"The two leaders discussed the importance for all parties to respect the official results once announced and to work together with a spirit of unity to form an inclusive, representative government that reflects the will of the people.
"The President noted that the election and formation of a new government could be an important step forward in Myanmar’s democratic transition and the effort to forge a more peaceful and prosperous future," the release says.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
SUU KYI’S NLD TAKES ABSOLUTE MAJORITY IN MYANMAR'S PARLIAMENT
12:45 November 13, 2015
The National League for Democracy (NLD) has secured a super majority in both Houses of Parliament. This means the party has enough seats to form a government, control the legislature and select Myanmar's next president.
It is still unknown who the party will put forward for the role of President.
The party's leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is barred from taking the role, due to the controversial constitution which forbids anybody with a foreign spouse or children becoming the president.
The NLD have always been confident of victory. As early as Tuesday, the party publicly said it would win the majority it sought.
Two days ago the incumbent Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) conceded defeat. The President, Thein Sein, sent his congratulations to Daw Suu Kyi for "gathering the support of the people". He issued a statement on his Facebook which said: “The government will respect and follow the people’s choice and decision, and work on transferring power peacefully according to the timetable".
Myanmar's election has not been fought over policies and therefore questions about what Daw Suu Kyi's party will do once in power remain relatively unanswered.
(Reporting: James Coe)
US PRESIDENT OBAMA CONGRATULATES DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI
10:10 November 13, 2015
US President Barack Obama spoke last night by phone with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to congratulate her on her campaign and the success of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Myanmar’s historic parliamentary election that was held on November 8, 2015, according to a White House statement on 12 November.
The US President commended her for her tireless efforts and sacrifice over so many years to promote a more inclusive, peaceful, and democratic Myanmar. The two leaders discussed the importance for all parties to respect the official results once announced and to work together in the spirit of unity to form an inclusive, representative government that reflects the will of the people.
President Obama noted that the election and formation of a new government could be an important step forward in Myanmar’s democratic transition and the effort to forge a more peaceful and prosperous future, the statement said.
NLD ON THE VERGE OF HAVING ENOUGH SEATS TO FORM A GOVERNMENT
23:50 November 12, 2015
Latest poll results show the NLD with 327 seat, two shy of enough seats to form a government. Please see the percentage seats in the pie charts. There are still more results to come in.
In the chart here, the percentage of votes can be seen, the left side showing the lower house and the right side the upper house.
UEC CONTINUES COUNT WITH NLD IN THE LEAD
18:00 November 12, 2015
The Union Election Commission is continuing its count of votes with the latest count in at midday November 12. In the chart here, the percentage of votes can be seen, the left side showing the lower house and the right side the upper house.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic issued a statement yesterday calling Myanmar’s elections “a historic milestone.”
COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF MIN AUNG HLAING WILL MEET SUU KYI AFTER FULL RESULTS OUT
15:40 November 12, 2015
Myanmar's powerful army chief on Wednesday congratulated Aung San Suu Kyi's party for "winning a majority" in landmark polls, agreeing to talks as her pro-democracy opposition appeared set for a landslide victory.
The comments carry significant weight coming from the from Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, the head of a military that ruled the country for half a century with an iron fist and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years.
Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy party were poised for a massive victory after a 25-year struggle, had earlier called for talks on "national reconciliation".
She sent letters to Min Aung Hlaing, President Thein Sein and parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann, urging them to recognise the popular mandate.
In response, the army chief posted a message late Wednesday on the military's official Facebook page, the preferred form of communication between the institution and the country it sealed off from the world.
"We congratulate the NLD for winning a majority of seats," he said, adding he will meet Suu Kyi after the official results are declared by election authorities.
As the announcement was made, the NLD seemed poised for a massive victory after a 25-year democracy struggle, and on the brink of a majority after taking more than 85 percent of the seats declared so far.
FRENCH PRESIDENT CALLS SUU KYI WITH MESSAGE OF CONGRATULATIONS
15:30 November 12, 2015
The French embassy in Myanmar has issued a press release on November 12 saying that yesterday President François Hollande called opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to offer his congratulations.
The press release reads:
"This morning the President of the Republic talked to Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and chairperson of the National League for Democracy.
"He welcomed the successful conduct of the campaign and of the elections and congratulated Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi for her decisive role in the progress of democracy in Myanmar, which must be pursued.
"The President recalled that France was still paying close attention to the respect of the will of the people of Myanmar, to the easing of political and religious tensions and to the pursuit of national reconciliation as desired by Mrs Aung San Suu Kyi.The commitments made in this regard must be respected."
ADDING UP THE SEATS AS THE NLD CONTINUES TO SURGE AHEAD
21:25 November 11, 2015
The Union Election Commission is continuing to release results, with the National League for Democracy remaining squarely in the lead.
So far, the NLD has 77 seats in the lower house and 180 seats in the upper house. This compares with its main competitor, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party with 4 seats in the lower house and 9 seats in the upper house.
Other parties are also logging up seats but so far their total percentage is roughly 5 percent in the lower house and 6 percent in the upper house.
The USDP has conceded defeat but has called on the electorate to wait until all the results are in.
ELECTION ‘PASSES LITMUS TEST FOR POLITICAL TRANSITION’ - COMMENTATOR
18:10 November 11, 2015
Debra Eisenman, Executive Director of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York, had the following to say about the Myanmar election:
"Sunday’s election in Myanmar has long been seen by the international community—particularly the West—as the litmus test of the political transition’s credibility. The election process, thus far, has unfolded to be generally peaceful, free, and legitimate. This result, coupled with early reports that show a sizeable victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and that confirm current government officials are conceding defeat, mean that the political transition has been real, regardless of questions over its top-down nature. Should the NLD hold the majority of parliamentary seats that early reports have indicated, the looming question over post-election power sharing largely recedes. But myriad and significant challenges (and opportunities) remain for the transition, including building democratic institutions and the rule of law; tackling corruption; addressing ethnic and religious intolerance and conflict, and building on the current ceasefire agreement; and delivering the economic benefits of the transition to the broader population."
FRANCE SENDS CONGRATULATIONS
18:00 November 11, 2015
French President François Hollande has congratulated Myanmar on a successful election.
According to a statement:
“The President of the Republic hails the historic elections that were held in Myanmar. They are an important step in the process of democratic transition.
France congratulates the candidates who have already been declared elected and calls on all stakeholders to abide by the popular will as it has been clearly expressed.”
CANADIAN PM CONGRATULATES MYANMAR ON ELECTION
13:40 November 11, 2015
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau sent a message of congratulation to Myanmar following its national election.
“I would like to congratulate the people of Burma for the historic national elections which took place on Sunday, November 8, 2015,” he says.
“The eagerness and enthusiasm displayed by the Burmese in exercising their right to vote demonstrates clearly that they are committed to building their young democracy,” he says.
PM Trudeau recently won a national election in Canada. He has appointed female candidates to half his ministerial posts.
INFORMATION MINISTER SAYS GOVT WILL MEET WITH SUU KYI AFTER FULL RESULTS OUT
15:05 November 11, 2015
Myanmar's information minister has said that President Thein Sein and the military will respect the results of the elections.
It is widely accepted that the National League for Democracy will win a landslide, although results are still being slowly released.
Yesterday, as we reported, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi requested a meeting with the Myanmar leaders to discuss the formation of a new government.
After the request, the current Information Minister Ye Htut, wrote on his Facebook page that: "In the post-election period, the country's leaders will discuss maintaining peace and stability of the country".
He has, however, indicated that the government told Suu Kyi that they will only meet with her once the full electoral results have been announced by the Union Election Commission.
SUU KYI CALLS FOR MEETING WITH MYANMAR GOVT LEADERS
14:00 November 11, 2015
Opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has sent a letters to government leaders calling for a meeting in the wake of what is lining up to be a landslide victory in the polls for her National League for Democracy.
The letters, dated November 10, call for a meeting with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, President U Thein Sein and House Speaker Thura U Shwe Mann.
BRITISH PM PRAISES ‘TRIUMPH FOR THE BURMESE PEOPLE’
13:40 November 11, 2015
British PM David Cameron praised the Myanmar electorate in the November 8 elections, noting their clear voice for change, in a statement made November 10.
“These landmark elections are an important step towards democracy in Burma and a triumph for Burmese people, who have clearly voiced their desire for change.
“The sight of thousands of people queuing peacefully to exercise their right to vote, many for the first time in their lives, was a moving moment demonstrating the remarkable progress Burma has made in recent years, including since my visit in 2012.
“We welcome the view of independent election observers that people turned out in large numbers and calmly cast their votes in a generally well-run polling process, with anonymity of the vote respected.
“We urge all parties to work together now for a peaceful and orderly transition as the new government is formed. The UK stands ready to support the people of Burma as they continue to work towards a more democratic and accountable government, including those unable to vote in this election,” British PM Cameron said.
NLD VICTORY RESULTS CONTINUE TO COME IN
13:30 November 11, 2015
According to the UEC official electoral results, 345 out of 394 winning candidates so far listed are NLD candidates.
EU ELECTION MONITORS GIVE A CAUTIOUS THUMBS UP TO ELECTION
17:40 November 10, 2015
The European Union election monitors have cautiously welcomed the election process in Myanmar, but noted that a full report needs to wait until all the votes have been tallied.
"The 2015 general elections are a historic juncture in the democratic transition of Myanmar. The poll was well organized and voters had a real choice between different candidates. In the future, constitutional, legal and procedural improvements will be required for truly genuine elections," said Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) , speaking at a press conference today in Yangon.
"It is important for everyone to note that the election is not over. The results process is still underway. This is a critical part of the process and it will be important to maintain a high level of transparency and integrity throughout," said Mr Graf Lambsdorff. He noted that EU observers will remain in the field to observe the tabulation and results processes as well as any complaints and appeals.
The process of advanced voting, however, was less well managed and lacked transparency. For example, EU observers were not given access to out of constituency advance voting in military barracks, despite prior assurances," he said.
The EU Election Observation Mission will present a Final Report with recommendations to the public at a later stage.
(PHOTO: Mark Yang/Mizzima)
IN WAKE OF ELECTION, ARMY BOMBS SHAN REBEL BASE
16:10 November 10, 2015
An official in the Shan State Progress Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N) reported a Myanmar army attack near their headquarters in Wan Hai, in central Shan State’s Khesi Township, at 10 a.m. this morning, Shan Herald Agency for News (SHAN) reported on 10 November.
The source said three helicopters from Military Operation Command No. 2—known locally as Za Ka Ka—dropped bombs on the outskirts of Wan Hai. The SHAN report said at the time of reporting it could not confirm if anyone was injured or killed in the attack, which was allegedly ongoing.
The incident was apparently a continuation of shelling and shooting in neighbouring Mong Hsu Township and Khesi’s Mong Nong sub-township, which began last night.
This is the second incident of military violence in central Shan State reported in as many days; yesterday, while leaving their farmland, two civilians—including one child—were shot by Myanmar Army soldiers in Mong Nong, Khesi Township, the report said.
THAI JUNTA LEADER CONGRATULATES MYANMAR PRESIDENT
16:00 November 10, 2015
Thai junta chairman Prayuth Chan-ocha praised Myanmar President Thein Sein for the high turnout and thanked authorities for allowing observers from Thailand to monitor the polls of their neighbours, said Sek Wannamethee, Thailand’s foreign affairs spokesman, according to Khaosod.
“We also emphasised the intention of the Thai government to support the political development and national reconciliation process in Myanmar, which will lead the country to peace, stability and progress,” Sek told reporters.
NLD LOOKING AT A POTENTIAL LANDSLIDE VICTORY
13:51 November 10, 2015
The election results coming appears to confirm that the National League for Democracy has won around 80% of the available parliamentary seats. Twenty-five percent of the total parliamentary seats are reserved for the military.
The Union Election Commission has yet to show the full official results. The results are still coming in.
Photo: Hong Sar/Mizzima
USDP ‘LOST COMPLETELY’ – SENIOR PARTY MEMBER
12:50 November 10, 2015
A senior member of Myanmar's ruling party said Tuesday they had "lost completely" to Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition, as a major election win for her democracy movement appeared within touching distance.
The drip feed of poll results pointed to a big win for her National League for Democracy (NLD), which has bagged 49 of the first 54 lower house seats announced so far.
The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was braced for a rout after taking just three of the declared seats, with many party heavyweights losing.
"Our USDP lost completely. The NLD has won," senior party member Kyi Win told AFP from party headquarters in the capital Naypyidaw.
"This is the fate of our country. Let them (the NLD) work. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has to take responsibility now... we congratulate them anyway."
Kyi Win, a retired army officer who sits at the heart of party operations in the capital, said the NLD was poised to win a coveted majority in parliament.
But official victory for the NLD remained elusive, with election officials releasing results at just a trickle throughout Tuesday.
The NLD needs 67 percent of contested seats for that majority.
Anything higher would bolster its political leverage in a legislature where 25 percent of seats are ring-fenced for the army.
Suu Kyi's political ascent is also capped by the army-scripted constitution that bars anyone with foreign children from the presidency.
Her two sons, much of whose upbringing she missed under house arrest in Yangon, are British.
A massive majority would strengthen her hand in selecting a favourable president, and she vowed before the election to be "above the president" in the event of an NLD win.
NLD voters believe an election win will reset the country under Suu Kyi's guidance, in a major stride away from army control.
They remained confident of a major win, but cautious of kickback from the powerful army.
"I think the results will come soon, but I'm worried," said Ma Pyone, a vegetable seller in downtown Yangon.
"I don't know if the current government will seize power (if they lose) or not, but I hope they won't."
The NLD recorded a landslide in the last elections it contested in 1990 only for the army to ignore the result and double down on its repressive rule.
But in a televised statement before Sunday's election President Thein Sein said both the ruling party and the army will respect the result.
Buoyant red-clad supporters of Suu Kyi's NLD sang and danced for a second night on Monday outside the party base in Yangon, cheering each confirmed win as expectations of a landslide mounted.
But on Tuesday morning the big screen and loudspeakers, which 24 hours earlier carried an impromptu address by Suu Kyi, were suddenly removed.
Washington welcomed the "peaceful and historic" election but nonetheless urged caution until official results were announced.
Election officials have estimated an 80 percent turnout, a figure observers say will aid the NLD's quest for a majority, but it could take days for the full results to be officially announced.
NLD WINS CONTINUE TO BUILD
11:50 November 10, 2015
The National League for Democracy currently have 143 seats out of 158 declared. There are a total of 664 seats in the combined lower and upper houses of parliament.
Results of the November 8 election continue to slowly come in. It could take several days for the full result to be known.
(Photo: James Coe/Mizzima)
UN SECRETARY GENERAL CONGRATULATES THE MYANMAR PEOPLE
11:00 November 10, 2015
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a press release on November 9 said said he wished to congratulate the broad masses of the people from various walks of life in Myanmar for their patience, dignity and enthusiasm as they participated in the Sunday elections.
Mr Ban commended the Union Election Commission as well as its various state, regional and local institutions for their important work. Observers to the process, both domestic and international, have also witnessed this momentous event, he said.
"The Secretary-General notes that the results of the polls have started to come in. He encourages all stakeholders in Myanmar to maintain the dignified spirit, calm and respect throughout the completion of the electoral process," the press release says.
OUT OF 121 SEATS DECLARED, THE NLD HAS WON 111
10:45 November 10, 2015
Good news continues to come in for the National League for Democracy having won 111 seats so far out of 121 declared.
The Union Election Commission will be released more results shortly, but it will take time to get a full picture.
(PHOTO: Hong Sar/Mizzima)
SUU KYI’S PARTY LOOKS AT A POSSIBLE LANDSLIDE VICTORY
10:05 November 10, 2015
The NLD claims to have swept all but 10 seats in the Lower House in four of the fourteen states where results are known. The Union Election Commission has yet to report the full results.
Yangon: 44 of the 45 Lower House and all 12 Upper House seats.
Ayeyarwaddy: All 26 Lower House seats and all 12 Upper House seats.
Bago: 27 of the 28 Lower House seats and all 12 Upper House seats.
Mon: 11 of the 19 Lower House seats and all 10 of the seats in the Upper House.
Although many results have yet to come in, particularly from outlying areas where there may be a stronger ethnic party vote, the NLD appears to be looking at a landslide victory.
FLASHBACK TO THE 1990 POLLS
Time Magazine's take on the 1990 polls, which Daw Aung San Suu Kyi won.
PEOPLE'S ALLIANCE FOR CREDIBLE ELECTIONS RELEASE INITIAL FINDINGS
22:20 November 9, 2015
PACE observers were deployed around the country to watch the opening, voting and closing and counting process. Overall, PACE saw an orderly Election Day process where voters were able to participate. Most polling stations opened on time and facilities were usually accessible to voters. PACE observers saw low rates of intimidation of voters at the polling stations. In general, observers were allowed to watch the process, though some faced difficulty at the beginning of the day. Political party and candidate agents were present in a large number of polling stations.
PACE found that, in some polling stations, less than 10 people were turned away because they were not on the voter list. At the end of voting day, many stations still had a queue of voters and, in nearly all cases, those people were allowed to vote. Election officials in most locations followed voting procedures, however there were some isolated cases where some individuals not on the voter list were allowed to vote.
In nearly all locations, witnesses, observers and agents were allowed to stay during the count. Copies of the results form (Form 16) were posted in most locations. PACE observers did find some locations where advance ballots were not counted before Election Day ballots as required by procedures. Party and candidate agents raised complaints about the count in less than one-third of polling stations.
PACE will release a final report on its observation findings from the voter list update process, the campaign process, electoral preparations and Election Day in the coming weeks.
EARLY ELECTION RESULTS
19:10 November 9, 2015
The first announcement of the Union Election Commission saw the results of 12 Lower House constituencies, all in and near Yangon, four regional assemblies.
NLD won all 12 Lower House seats: Latha; Seikkan; Insein; Yankin; Thaketa; Dawpon; Pazundaung; Ahlone; Lanmadaw; Kamayut; Dagon; and Tamwe.
As for the regional parliaments, the NLD won three seats: Latha-1; Latha-2; and Seikkan-2, while the USDP won one seat: Seikkan-1.
In the second announcement, all 20 Yangon regional parliament seats went to the NLD.
POWER OUTAGE INTERRUPTS TRANSMISSION OF FIRST ELECTION RESULTS
18:20 November 9, 2015
The Nay Pyi Taw electoral broadcast results set for 6 pm were cut due to a power cut which also affected communications with Yangon. Heavy rain has lashed parts of Myanmar.
The broadcast to the NLD headquarters feed in Yangon was also affected.
NLD SUPPORTERS WAIT FOR THE POLL RESULTS
17:20 November 9, 2015
Supporters wearing National League for Democracy (NLD) party t-shirts walk during rain near the NLD headquarters in Yangon 9 November 2015. The NLD is eyeing victory. In the first official results, the election commission said the NLD won all 12 of the seats in the area around former capital Yangon.
(PHOTO: Nyein Chan Naing/EPA)
ARAKAN NATIONAL PARTY SWEEPS RAKHINE STATE: ANP SPOKESPERSON
15:55 November 9, 2015
“According to an unconfirmed report, the ANP won 25 seats in the State Parliament, 13 seats in the Upper House, and 12 seats in the Lower House. In Paletwa Township, it won one seat in the Lower House, two seats in the Upper House, and two seats in the State Parliament,” ANP’s vice-chairperson Daw Aye Nu Sein told the BNI news service.
Although the party does not know the results in some areas yet as it has been unable to contact its candidates, the ANP has lost all seats in Gwa and Manaung Township.
“We have not received the results from Toungup, Ann, Thandwe, Kyaukpyu, and Ramree townships,” said Daw Aye Nu Sein.
Both the opposition NLD and ruling USDP appear to have lost out seriously to the ANP.
(Courtesy of BNI)
NLD SAYS THEY ARE ON TRACK TO WIN 70 PERCENT OF THE VOTE
15:30 November 9, 2015
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party said Monday it was set to claim over 70 percent of seats following Myanmar's election, a tally that could sweep it to power after decades of military dominance.
Rapturous party supporters danced into the night after the polls closed, optimistic of victory from the first election the National League for Democracy has contested in 25 years.
Early counting appears to have swung in the NLD's favour, said party spokesman Win Htein, predicting of a majority -- although he said the party would wait for official results.
"We are on track to win more than 70 percent of seats around the country, but the election commission has not officially confirmed yet," he told AFP.
He did not specify how the calculation was made and if he thought that percentage would translate into power.
The NLD needs 67 percent of available parliamentary seats to enjoy a majority.
That would be enough to overwhelm the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), whose military allies are gifted 25 percent of seats under the constitution.
But seats are also up for grabs in regional legislatures.
Suu Kyi herself was slightly more circumspect, but hinted at victory.
"It is not the time to congratulate our candidates who we think have won the election," she told supporters and journalists from the balcony of her party's Yangon headquarters.
But "people have an idea of the result even if I don't say it," she added.
Election authorities were expected to hold a press conference at 6:00 pm that could see some partial results announced.
They have said that preliminary figures would be released within 48 hours of Sunday’s vote, and a full nationwide count in 10 days or so.
(AFP - PHOTO: Hong Sar/Mizzima)
‘FRAUD’ CONCERNS DOG USDP CANDIDATE IN LASHIO
15:20 November 9, 2015
NLD and SNLD candidates in Lashio, Shan State, have sent in letters of complaint to the Union Election Commission of irregularities in Sunday’s ballot in the constituency. Vice President Dr Sai Mauk Khan and USDP candidate contested the seat. The complainants said a large number of advanced votes were received and all of them were for the USDP.
USDP LOSES AYAYARWADDY REGION TO NLD, SAYS USDP CO-CHAIRMAN
14:40 November 9, 2015
U Htay Oo, co-chair of USDP party, told reporters late this morning that the USDP has lost to the NLD across the whole Ayeyarwaddy Region. He made the announcement ahead of the official UEC election results which are expected to start being rolled out at 6 pm this evening.
USDP ACTING CHAIRMAN TELLS MEDIA ‘WE LOST’
15:05 November 9, 2015
In two separate interviews with international media, (USDP) acting chairman U Htay Oo conceded that the ruling USDP had lost out to the NLD in Sunday’s national poll. U Htay Oo said the USDP had won in some constituencies and lost in others, but overall the NLD had the majority.
“In the first free and fair election in 25 years, in the November 8 election I have to confess that the USDP has lost to the NLD. We will accept this result,” he said.
U Htay Oo was speaking ahead of the official results expected from the Union Election Commission to be released after 6 pm today. Full results may not be known for several days.
ZABUTHIRI TOWNSHIP WIN FOR NLD CANDIDATE
14:30 November 9, 2015
NLD candidate U Phyo Zeya Thaw defeated USDP candidate U Myat Hein for Lower House seat in Zabuthiri Township in Nay Pyi Taw.
THURA U SHWE MANN CONGRATULATES WINNING NLD CANDIDATE
14:10 November 9, 2015
Union Solidarity and Development candidate Thura U Shwe Mann, who was beaten by NLD candidate U Than Nyunt in Pyu Township in the Sunday election, has officially expressed his congratulations to the NLD candidate.
(PHOTO: Thura U Shwe Mann, centre-left, lines up to vote yesterday.)
SUU KYI TELLS SUPPORTERS MOVE FORWARD 'WITH FULL CARE'
12:30 November 9, 2015
Opposition National League for Democracy party leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told supporters at her party's headquarters in Yangon late Monday morning that supporters are celebrating but that they also need to take care.
The Union Election Commission has yet to officially release the results of yesterday's national election but many are hoping for an NLD victory.
"The results of the votes have not officially been confirmed. But, you know that the public are celebrating right now," Suu Kyi told the crowd.
"We will know the results within one or two days. We need to have a lot of care and I believe that our public are already aware of it. We must move forward with full care."
"Avoid acting, speaking and dealing with the losing body (political party) badly. Don't write or speak so that the losing body cannot bear the (criticism)," she said.
Suu Kyi was referring to the ruling military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party led by President U Thein Sein. Unofficial results indicate the USDP may be seriously lagging behind the NLD.
(PHOTO: Hong Sar/Mizzima)
SUU KYI SUPPORTERS OPTIMISTIC
11:20 November 9, 2015
Supporters of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party were optimistic Monday of a victory in Myanmar's milestone elections as they awaited first results from polls that could sweep away decades of military control.
Election authorities are expected to hold a press conference at 4:00 pm (0930 GMT) that could see some partial results announced. They have said that preliminary figures would be released within 48 hours of Sunday’s vote, and a full nationwide count within 10 days or so.
But on the streets of Yangon many voters were confident that Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) was poised for a big win after what has been hailed as the freest elections in decades.
"I have no doubt about the results. I think everything is going to change," said Yee Yee, 30, a spice seller at a market in central Yangon, who voted for the NLD.
The party remained tight-lipped Monday, apparently hunkering down in anticipation of an official announcement.
When the count began Sunday, early indications were of an "80 percent" turnout, according to Union Election Commission deputy director Thant Zin Aung -- a figure the opposition believes favours their bid for a majority.
A senior NLD official urged patience from the euphoric crowd outside party headquarters late Sunday, as many refused to go home.
"We are waiting because we want to know the result," said Muang Kyaing, 67, outside the party's downtown base.
Supporters of Myanmar's National League for Democracy (NLD) party react as they monitor the first ballot counting result of the general elections, outside the NLD headquarters in Yangon, Myanmar, 08 November 2015. Photo: EPA
NLD SUPPORTERS WARN OF 'IRREGULARITIES' IN POLL
11:00 November 9, 2015
Suspected irregularities about early voting results are happening right now in Myit-Kyi-Na, Lashio & Taung-Gyi, according to supporters of the National League for Democracy, in a release this morning on Facebook.
They sent this warning:
"According to local media report, the unknown advanced votes which could reverse the final result are coming in.
We need international media coverage & observers.
Please help us enjoy a clean & fair election."
10:30 November 9, 2015
The results of Myanmar's historic election have been reportedly delayed from 9 am on 9 November to 6 pm on the same day due to a last minute change in the electoral rules.
The Union Election Commission is now requesting that all township election officials send their results directly to the UEC central headquarters in Nay Pyi Taw.
COUNTING THE VOTE
10:00 November 9, 2015
Phyuu constituency Election Sub-commission office counting the vote.
At South Oakklapa township election commission office, EU observers waiting for the result list. In that office, advanced votes were counted last night. Reportedly on the NLD party waited and watch the counting of the advanced votes the whole night. Other parties and observers went back home around 9 pm.
US HAILS MYANMAR VOTE AS 'IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD'
09:30 November 9, 2015
The United States welcomed Myanmar's landmark election Sunday, but warned of "important structural and systemic impediments" to full democratization in the Southeast Asian nation after decades of military rule.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the massive turnout, which could see opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party catapulted to power, was a "testament to the courage and sacrifice shown by the people of Burma over many decades."
"While these elections were an important step forward, we recognize that they were far from perfect," Kerry added.
"There remain important structural and systemic impediments to the realization of full democratic and civilian government."
The top US diplomat pointed to a large number of unelected seats reserved for the military, the disfranchisement of minorities such as Rohingya Muslims and the "arbitrary" disqualification of certain candidates.
Millions of people cast their ballots for the first time in a quarter of a century, in an event heavy with history and filled with emotion.
The vote saw an 80 percent turnout.
"We will continue to watch the vote counting process, and encourage all parties to help ensure the tabulation is transparent and credible and any complaints are addressed promptly, transparently and appropriately," Kerry said.
"Today's election has the potential to be an important step towards greater peace, prosperity and democracy for the people of Burma," he added, encouraging political leaders to work together.
"The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Burma in their pursuit of democracy, development, and national reconciliation going forward."
VOTERS WAIT FOR RESULTS
09:20 November 9, 2015
The Union Election Commission says it will begin releasing early poll results from 9.00 am in the morning from their Nay Pyi Taw office, and later Yangon office. But a fuller picture is unlikely until this afternoon.
Indications are that 80 percent or more of the electorate went to the polls, a high turnout - including many elderly people who made the effort to vote in this historic election.
(Photo: Elderly woman is helped to vote. Photo: Hong Sar/Mizzima)
POSSIBLE FRAUD CASE IN MANDALAY
20:40 November 8, 2015
Reports have come in of about 100 unregistered voters who came on Sunday afternoon to Mahar Myaing (1) town square which is located in Mahar Aung Myay township of Mandalay region in order to try to vote. About 20 were able to vote before the authorities stepped in to arrest them. They were eventually released. The majority were prevented from voting. Representatives from the National League for Democracy say those caught will be sued.
(Photo: A local administrative official speaks to the media about the case)
CROWDS WAIT OUTSIDE SUU KYI'S HOUSE
20:30 November 8, 2015
Thousands of people are waiting outside Daw Aung San Suu Kyi home in Yangon awaiting the outcome of today's ballot.
TIME TO SMILE, SAYS INFORMATION MINISTER U YE HTUT
20:20 November 8, 2015
"Winners are happy and losers, let's smile! The elections are over." Information Minister U Ye Htut, in a comment on Facebook.
As he says: "Leave the differences we have in the pre-election period all behind and unanimously, let's walk forward!"
THURA U SHWE MANN VOTES
20:15 November 8, 2015
Thura U Shwe Mann voted in Phyu constituency at the polling station around 11.00 this morning.
19:40 November 8, 2015
Thousands of National League for Democracy (NLD) supporters gathered outside of the NLD Headquarters in Yangon, Myanmar on Sunday evening.
Roads were blocked and the sea of supporters - most dressed in NLD t-shirts or wearing the party colour, red - sang songs, waved flags and cheered in what they hope to be a new era of democracy in Myanmar.
A large LCD display beamed out election results and other news, as well as images of Aung San, the father of Aung San Suu Kyi and widely considered the father of the Myanmar democracy movement.
Suu Kyi was scheduled to attend and address the rally but her appearance was cancelled at the last minute.
The NLD are hoping to win Myanmar's first democratic election in 25 years, some suggest by a landslide. Suu Kyi and her NLD party will need to win the two thirds of the available seats if she is to rival the current Union Solidarity and Development Party with their military support in Parliament.
The full electoral results are due from 9 am on Monday, November 9.
(Reported by James Coe)
VOTING COUNTING IN SUU KYI’S CONSTITUENCY
19:30 November 8, 2015
Vote counting taking place after 4 pm on Sunday in Kawhmu Township, Yangon Region, the constituency of opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
'FAKE VOTER APPROVAL TICKETS FOUND'
19:25 November 8, 2015
Allegations have been made that fake voter approval tickets were used at Aung Thuka village in Pote Ba Thiri township in Nay Pyi Taw.
19:15 November 8, 2015
Counting the votes at the voting station No.3, Military Administration School at town square No.3 in Pyin Oo Lwin township. The staff are counting the votes of families of the Myanmar army.
80 PERCENT VOTER TURNOUT: AFP
19:05 November 8, 2015
Union Election Commission deputy director Thant Zin Aung said early indications were that "around 80 percent of voters turned out today," according to AFP.
Polling stations across the country closed at 4 pm.
Photo: Hong Sar/Mizzima
THE ‘PUPPET MASTER’ VOTES IN NEAR SECLUSION
19:00 November 8, 2015
The former Dictator-General who masterminded the Myanmar military’s transition to a quasi-democracy, Senior GeneralThan Shwe, and led the country for nearly two decades until 2011, slipped into a small voting booth with his wife in an outlying village Sunday to cast his vote in a village near Nay Pyi Taw, according to an AP report.
Than Shwe was the man who decided to move the capital from what was then Rangoon, now Yangon, to Nay Pyi Taw. He was believed to have been following the guidance of astrologers and former kings, who believed it was auspicious to change capitals.
Than Shwe lives in a well-guarded compound in a military zone with many of his fellow generals. Some believe he still exercises behind-the-scenes guidance.
16:50 November 8, 2015
"The Associated Press have quoted the UEC as saying that Myanmar's election had an 80% turn out, very close to the poll released today by Merdeka and Mizzima where 81% of respondents said they would vote."
MA BA THA NATIONALIST GROUP CALLS FOR ACCEPTANCE OF ELECTION OUTCOME
14:40 November 8, 2015
The nationalistic Buddhist group Ma Ba Tha released a letter on Sunday advising the public to accept the results of the 2015 election “peacefully and respectfully in accordance with the rule of law.”
The letter - seemingly sent to foreign journalists and other interested parties and written in English - is signed by Bhadanta Tilowkar Bivamsa, chairman of the Organization for the Protection of National Race and Religion (OPNRR).
“In a democracy, everyone has the right to express their opinion and ideology based on one’s political perspective,” he wrote. “However, they need to value the important position that no harm must come to either one’s self or others when they conduct their actions and attitudes while exercising their democratic rights.”
It is critical that peace and harmony prevail among Myanmar citizens for the sake of the nation and the people, he said, while urging followers to “completely let go of whatever you have done in the past in order to create a new and harmonious future.”
“This is the right time for all Myanmar citizens to awaken and to work together for the duty of building a peaceful country and to establish a true democracy,” the letter concluded.
Ma Ba Tha rapidly rose to prominence in 2012 following racial clashes in western Rakhine State between Muslims and Buddhist. Riots left more than 200 people dead and 140,000 displaced in government camps.
The group has drawn condemnation for their mixing of religion and politics, while at the same time attracting millions of supporters throughout the country who rallied to what critics say is a xenophobic ideology.
The group has pilloried the National League for Democracy and its leader Aung San Suu Kyi and supported the policies of the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.
The powerful group, feared by many politicians, lobbied politicians and the government to create so-called “race and religion” laws which have been condemned as racist, sowing distrust and animosity between Buddhist and Muslims.
The Parliament passed four laws this year described as “race and religion” laws, which restrict interfaith marriage, polygamy and religious conversion, and address unbalanced population growth. The laws were aimed at Muslims, according to critics.
In public speeches, the Ma Ba Tha has called on people not to mix religion and politics. But their actions have shown otherwise.
The NLD has filed formal complaints against Ma Ba Tha, charging that the group used religion to influence voters before the elections in contravention of the country’s election laws.
U HTAY OO GOES TO VOTE
14:20 November 8, 2015
USDP general secretary and Minister of Agriculture U Htay oo when to vote in Hintharda town this morning.
MUSLIM VOTERS GO TO THE POLL IN MANDALAY
14:20 November 8, 2015
Muslim voters outside the polling station in Oo Pote Taw town square in Aung Myay Thar San Township in Mandalay, an area of the city with a sizable Muslim population.
In an incident reported yesterday, a couple of dozen voter approval tickets that facilitate voting were found thrown away by the roadside in this area.
PRESIDENT THEIN SEIN GOES TO VOTE
13:40 November 8, 2015
President U Thein Sein went to the polling station in Zabu Thiri township in Nay Pyi Taw at around 11.00 am to vote.
President U Thein Sein has urged political parties to accept the results of the November 8 election with magnanimity, saying that the upcoming election will be free and fair.
In his election speech broadcast on November 5 evening, the president said he firmly believed that the upcoming election will be free and fair and that it will reflect the desires of the people. He acknowledged that there have been many challenges along the way in fulfilling the administration’s desire to hold smooth elections.
ACTRESS EAINDRA KYAW ZIN VOTES
13:40 November 8, 2015
Actress Eaindra Kay Zin went out to vote today and posted on Facebook.
ACTOR NAY TOE VOTES
13:35 November 8, 2015
Actor U Nay Toe went out to vote today and proudly posted a photo on Facebook.
BALLOTING APPEARS TO BE GOING SMOOTHLY SO FAR
13:00 November 8, 2015
Vote tampering, glitches and violent clashes may not be as widespread as feared, according to a random survey of early morning balloting in Myanmar.
With a history of flawed voting procedures, all stakeholders in the election – the government, political parties, NGOs, international observers and the general public, are carefully scrutinizing the process.
Long lines of eager voters appeared early this morning when the polls opened but complaints so far seem have been less than expected, according to many observers. That could change quickly as more reports come in across the country, particularly from rural areas.
Issues include faulty voter lists that exclude legitimate voters or include suspect voters who previously were not on the lists; damaged or faulty ballots, snafus in counting advanced ballots, electioneering within the confines of the voting stations, physical violence, intimidation and other issues.
The European Union's chief election observer told the media early polling seemed "rather reliable" in Yangon, the largest city, the AP reported.
Alexander Lambsdorff, head of the EU's Election Observation Mission Myanmar 2015, said: "I can say at this time, on the morning of election day, that so far what we are observing is a procedure that looks as if it's rather reliable."
Some issues stood out ahead of the vote as potential problems, but they "do not seem to pose a great problem at this point in time," such as voters lists and problems with identification of voters, he said.
The Myanmar government has allowed 28 nations to send vote monitors, who together with local watchdogs number nearly 11,000.
The NLD has been active in filing complaints during the campaign period with the Union Election Commission.
The latest voters' list for Pobbathiri Township in Nay Pyi Taw contained an additional 11,000 voters who cannot be verified, according to a representative of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD).
“There were no addresses on the voter lists when they were released last year. Now, an additional 11,000 voters – also without addresses – have appeared,” he told DVB on Saturday.
The original registrar listed 59,000 voters in Pobbathiri, while this week’s list, released on Nov 2, contained more than 70,000 names.
NLD members went to the township office of the UEC to inquire.
“When we spoke to the commission, they said they could not insert the addresses of voters due to time constraints,” he told DVB.
Many of the additional names came from a quarter where many retired soldiers live.
The European Union (EU) has sent 30 staff to monitor the Myanmar election, and is expected to release a preliminary assessment of the elections on Nov 10, along with many other international observer groups.
SINGER JOINS YANGON ELECTORATE IN VOTING IN THE POLLS
12:50 November 8, 2015
Singer Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein posted a photo on Facebook this morning showing her inked finger to indicate she has voted in Yangon in the national election.
COMEDIAN ZARGANAR VOTES
12:45 November 8, 2015
Comedian and activist Zarganar went to the polls today to vote.
UEC SAYS ‘BOMB’ FOUND WAS A ‘TOY’
12:40 November 8, 2015
Police made a search of the area near the Union Election Commission office in Kyan Taw, San Chaung Township, Yangon on Sunday morning, but a suspected bomb found at the scene turned out to be a toy.
Police were called after a suspicious object was found near the UEC office at around 9:30 am. They carried out a sweep of the area, including trash cans.
According to the UEC, the object found was a toy, not a bomb.
Voting in Yangon appears to be proceeding in a relaxed manner, with little sign of tension.
ACTIVIST MIN KO NAING ISSUES POEM
09:55 November 8, 2015
Activist and National League for Democracy supporter Min Ko Naing issued a poem on his Facebook account on the morning of election day, waxing lyrical about the “cry of the peacock” – Aoe Wai – a reference to the NLD and its peacock symbol.
Today, the rusted bones of our heroes
sing the "Aoe Wai" song
Every flag raised by the just people
are filled with dignity and history
The unjust opposing people
Raise whatever flags you want
Make whatever voices you favour
Today, the rusted bones of heroes
sing unanimously the "Aoe Wai" song.
ADVANCED VOTING NOT TRANSPARENT
10:45 November 8, 2015
Candidates from two major Shan parties shared concerns with the ethnic Shan website Shan Herald Agency for News about the reliability of the country’s advanced voting process.
Sai Mon Lern, who is competing on behalf of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) for a State Assembly seat in Mong Nai Township, said that he has doubts about the validity of the electoral process.
“What they [the Election Commission] are doing is not transparent,” he said. “We requested that they use glue to stick the ballot bags closed in order to keep the ballots safe, but we were denied that by the Election Commission.”
He said that electoral officials told him this practice could damage the marked ballots.
Sai Mon Lern’s concerns also extend to the ballot boxes, where completed votes are submitted; he alleged that no one knows where the advanced voters’ ballots are kept after they have been collected.
Problems have also been reported in Mong Yang Township within Kengtung District, in eastern Shan State.
“There are a lot of tokens left, so I’m worried that anyone can take them and cast a vote,” said Sai Laung, a candidate from the Shan Nationalities Democratic Party (SNDP) in Mong Yang Township, referring to the registration papers given to eligible voters.
He said that in order to avoid fraud, SNDP had requested that voters bring their national ID cards along with the token when they cast their ballots. But, he alleged that election officials are no longer requiring additional ID, and that the token can serve as sufficient identification to vote.
Both Sai Mon Lern (SNLD) and Sai Laung (SNDP) claimed that the names of deceased people have reportedly been found on voting lists, but often the people currently living in the location in question are not included. There are a lot of mistakes, they said, involving names, parents’ names, ages and ID numbers, which are all required for voter registration in Myanmar.
CANCELLATIONS LEAVE 100,000 UNABLE TO VOTE IN CENTRAL SHAN STATE
10:35 November 8, 2015
Over 100,000 central Shan State citizens will not be able to cast votes on November 8, due to polling cancellations in two townships, local election officials confirmed on Friday.
Officials from Township Election Commissions in Mong Hsu and Khesi verified the registration of 50,365 and 51,362 eligible voters in the two townships, respectively.
The Union Election Commission announced on October 27 that voting had been cancelled in the whole of the two townships, both located in Loilem District. The annulment was allegedly due to conditions created by active conflict between the Myanmar Army and the Shan State Progressive Party/Shan State Army-North (SSPP/SSA-N), affecting 22 villages and causing the displacement of 6,000 civilians in the area.
The area is perceived as being more supportive of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD), who opposed the closure of polls and requested a formal evaluation of whether this action was necessary.
In total, voting has now been cancelled in areas within 17 townships in Shan State, including 42 village tracts in Hopang Township, in the Wa Self-Administered Division, and eight village tracts in Tang Yan Township in northern Shan State.
A local source who collected demographic data for Myanmar’s 2014 census estimated on Friday that the move in Tang Yan would affect 10,000 voters.
MEDIA FRENZY AS DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI CASTS HER BALLOT
10:30 November 8, 2015
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi arrived to the crush of local and international media, as over a hundred media people turned out to capture an image of Daw Suu Kyi casting a ballot in Myanmar's landmark election.
Suu Kyi arrived at the voting station in Kawhmu, Yangon, at roughly 8:30 am.
Suu Kyi's arrival at the voting station in Bahan Township, Yangon, caused excitement to overflow into aggression. A small number of the press scuffled, as others broke past the agreed boundary and shoved into one another.
After casting her ballot, Suu Kyi was briefly prevented from exiting, as a scrum of photographers struggling to capture the perfect picture created a human barricade.
Before Suu Kyi arrived there were some minor arguments with the chairman of the voting station, as he seemed reluctant to open a window into the room in which Daw Suu Kyi would cast her ballot.
Members of the press challenged the chairman, suggesting that not doing so would be biased against Daw Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party because the current President, Thein Sein, was clearly visible as he cast his vote. The chairman relented and opened the window moments before Suu Kyi arrived.
While the press waited for Suu Kyi's arrival, queuing voters enjoyed the attention of reporters from around the world, called on them to pose and take part in interviews.
A total 575 foreign journalists and 131 Myanmar journalists have registered to work with foreign media organisations to cover the 2015 elections. This does not include the local Myanmar and foreign journalists working for Myanmar media.
(Reported by James Coe)
DAW AUNG SAN SUU KYI ARRIVES TO VOTE
09:50 November 8, 2015
Opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi arrived at the voting station in Bahan Township, Yangon this morning to vote.
Crowds of journalists milled around to catch a glimpse of Suu Kyi as she arrived to vote, the second time in a national election.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a resounding victory in the 1990 elections, but the results were annulled by the military.
Today, observers say the polls are likely to be more free and fair and there are hopes they will go off without too many hitches.
(Photo: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi arrives. Hong Sar/Mizzima)
POLLS OPEN FOR MYANMAR’S FIRST DEMOCRATIC ELECTION IN 25 YEARS
09:43 November 8, 2015
Polls opened this morning for Myanmar's first democratic election in 25 years.
Dozens of foreign journalists lined up in Bahan, Yangon, hoping for a glimpse of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy.
Suu Kyi is tipped to win a clear majority but it remains unknown whether she will get the 67% of seats she needs to rival the military's presence in Parliament.
Commentators says it t is hoped that the presence of international observers and media will act as a deterrent to much feared voter fraud.
(Photo: Voters and media people jostle at the voting station in Bahan. James Coe/Mizzima)
CONCERNS OVER ‘LACK OF ENTHUSIASM’ SHOWN BY UEC
09:35 November 8, 2015
Human Rights Watch has drawn attention to what is perceived by some observers, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as a “lack of enthusiasm” by the Union Election Commission for a “free and fair election.”
Writer Meenakshi Ganguly, writing for the HRW NGO pointed to Suu Kyi’s comments made in the week at her press conference to highlight the fears.
“We have been very concerned by the lack of enthusiasm on the part of the UEC [Union Election Commission] to hold free and fair elections,” Suu Kyi told the media during her final press conference before Myanmar goes to the polls on November 8. “We have repeatedly made complaints about the way in which some parties and individuals have been breaking the rules and regulations laid down by the election commission, but very little action has been taken.”
Ganguly said Suu Kyi was alluding to the “obvious bias in the UEC, which runs the election at the national and local levels. On Thursday, the UEC issued a statement decrying the criticism it has been subjected to for the election’s shortcomings, particularly by the NLD.
Ganguly said it was hardly surprising that a commission led and staffed by former military officers would not be impartial. The chairman, U Tin Aye, is a former army general and member of parliament from the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). In June, he made his views clear: “As a chairman, I am not supposed to have attachment to the party…. I have an attachment, but I don’t put it at the forefront of my mind…. I want the USDP to win, but to win fairly, not by cheating.”
While promising that the 2015 elections would be free and fair, he said they would be conducted in “disciplined democracy style,” using rhetoric closely associated with past Myanmar military governments. On March 27, during the annual Armed Forces Day parade in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, U Tin Aye wore his military uniform during the ceremony, saying: “I would give up my life to wear my uniform. I wear it because I want to. That’s why I wear it even if I have to quit [the UEC] because of that. But there is no law saying I should resign for wearing [my] uniform.”
Ganguly points to the fact that other parties are also worried about UEC bias. The commission has rejected nearly 100 candidate applications, most of them by Muslims, because the authorities now claim that their parents were not recognized as citizens at the time of the candidate’s birth. This is odd, as some had been elected in previous elections. For instance, the UEC rejected the candidacy of Shwe Maung, a Rohingya lawmaker from the ruling USDP. He had planned to run as an independent candidate in this election.
WAITING FOR SUU KYI
09:30 November 8, 2015
Local and foreign media wait outside the voting station in Bahan Township where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will cast her vote on Sunday morning.
PRAYERS FOR THE ELECTION
09:25 November 8, 2015
Many people took to lighting candles outside their homes last night in anticipation of the November 8 election.
SINGER CHASTISES ELECTION OFFICIALS FOR POOR MANNERS
20:30 November 7, 2015
Singer Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein took to Facebook to complain about the lack of manners she had encountered at a township office.
“I would like to tell the town square officers not to treat the advanced voters in a bad manner. I also heard town square officers of other town squares treat the voters not in a good manner. I am awed to see and hear that.
“Let me warn the town squares officers that please correct your manners. Tomorrow, there will be more people in each voting station. There will also be observers and various media. They will take photos and videos and news.
“You guys have 14 hours left to correct your bad manners when you deal voters. Change your manners,” she says in her Facebook post.
WEATHERMAN THANKS ‘THE LADY’
20:10 November 7, 2015
Famous weatherman U Tun Lwin took to Facebook on Saturday to voice his support for National League for Democracy chairperson Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
“In the general elections which will be hold tomorrow, even if she loses or wins, I would always be thankful to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, ‘my sister,’ for all her efforts to support our country and our citizens.”
(Photo shows U Tun Lwin shaking hands with Suu Kyi, with presidential advisor U Myint in the background.)
MYANMAR VOTERS POSITIVE - SAYS SURVEY
20:00 November 7, 2015
A survey carried out between 14 and 31 October 2015 by Mizzima Media Group in conjunction with Merdeka Center for Opinion Research (Malaysia), found that the majority of Myanmar voters have a positive outlook for the country, but this optimism had declined quite significantly from more than a year ago.
In terms of the general outlook for the country, a strong majority (62 percent) of the respondents believes that the country is going in the right direction. The positive outlook can be observed across all demographic variables.
There are multiple factors behind the positive outlook. Among the main factors are economic and infrastructure development (42 percent), greater democratic space (16 percent), improvement in education (9 percent), good governance (8 percent), reforms (7 percent) and more job opportunities (4 percent).
Despite the strong positive outlook, the figure is relatively weaker compared to the previous survey in February 2014. The February 2014 survey indicated that 88 percent voters think that the country was going in the right direction, a drop of 26 percentage points.
Indicative of the cautiousness of some respondents with the overall outlook of the country, 44 percent of respondents said that their household income remained the same over the last two years while 21 percent said they were worse off. Only 34 percent of respondents said that their household income was better off.
Low Level of Political Awareness
Another interesting finding of the survey is the lack of political awareness among an overwhelming majority of the voters. Only 29 percent of voters said that they are familiar with the candidates that are going to contest in their area while 43 percent said they are familiar with the political parties. These figures suggest that voters have a greater tendency to know the political parties that are going to contest in their area as compared to the candidates. A record 6,074 candidates will contest the 2015 general elections and this huge number could pose a great challenge to voters getting to know their respective candidates. Furthermore, the survey was carried out just a few weeks after the UEC had released the official candidate list, hence majority voters might not be aware of the candidates yet.
In respect to the voters’ familiarity with political parties, the emergence of many new parties could be the reason why majority voters do not know the political parties that are going to contest in their area. The 43 percent of voters who said that they are familiar with the political parties are referring to well-established parties like the USDP and NLD.
The survey was commissioned by a consortium led by Mizzima Media Group while Merdeka Center for Opinion Research (Malaysia) acted as the technical advisor. The survey implementer is Myanmar Survey Research (MSR). 1,200 adult Myanmar citizens were sampled as respondents via face-to-face interviews. Respondents were selected on multi-stage random sampling. The interviews were administrated in Myanmar while interpreters assisted in ethnic minority areas. The survey covered the whole of Myanmar except for Chin state where flooding prevented interviews from taking place. The survey is weighted to reflect the national population.
MAN TO WATCH
19:30 November 7, 2015
Thura U Shwe Mann, the ousted chairman of the government-backed USDP party, and NLD leader Suu Kyi appear to be lining up to work together in a spirit of collaboration and compromise, following the possible landslide win for National League of Democracy (NLD) candidates across the country in Sunday’s election.
That, at least, is what Shwe Mann would like people to think.
“Without collaboration, we can’t succeed,” said Shwe Mann, the former joint-chair of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) said at a press conference ahead of the elections. “At this moment, in order to develop Myanmar, we should collaborate. Democratization can’t be done by only one person. All parties should be included.”
While he’s no longer the leader of the USDP party, Shwe Mann still serves as speaker of the House, and this Sunday will stand for re-election to Parliament.
ETHNIC CARD CLOUT
19:20 November 7, 2015
Ethnic minorities in Myanmar, which account for an estimated 40 percent of the country’s population, could win as much as 30 percent of the country’s parliamentary seats and, as a united bloc, wield considerable power. Analysts believe votes for ethnic parties could weaken support for the opposition National League for Democracy. (Photo: EPA)
19:10 November 7, 2015
The U.S. Senior national security aide Ben Rhodes has suggested that there could be sanctions relief but admitted that the elections were taking place in a "climate of uncertainty."
‘FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED’ ELECTION
19:05 November 7, 2015
Human Rights Watch has called the election ‘Fundamentally Flawed’ and said it is ‘depriving Myanmar of their right to freely elect their government.’
VOTER FRAUD FEARS AS VOTER APPROVAL TICKETS FOUND THROWN AWAY
19:00 November 7, 2015
On 7 November, a National League for Democracy (NLD) supporter found 22 voter approval tickets on the corners of 19th street and 66th street in Mandalay. The individual reportedly took the tickets to their local NLD party office.
The NLD subsequently lodged a complaint with the Election Commission in Aung Myay Thar San township. The Commission said that it will check with the five voting stations in Aung Myay Thar San so as ensure voting fraud does not occur.
"A voter approval ticket gives the power to a person to vote. Finding these 22 tickets on the road raises many questions. There are only 22 we found. There could be more tickets on the road, might be someone picks up before us. It could raised problems in those five voting stations in the morning of the Election Day," one NLD member told Mizzima.
Election observers have expressed concerns about the possibility of fraud in the voting process.
WORLD PRESS WATCHES MYANMAR
18:10 November 7, 2015
Reactions from the world press to Sunday’s election in Myanmar have tended to praise what’s viewed as proof of an evolving democracy while voicing serious warnings about a cluster of issues that threaten to fester or explode as long-term problems which could derail progress and potentially bring the military back.
The issue that strikes a universal cord is the status of the disenfranchised and marginalized Rohingya and Muslim population.
The International Tribune wrote that “Myanmar’s Buddhist extremists have used anti-Muslim fear mongering to tar the National League for Democracy (NLD), effectively urging voters to choose candidates from the military-controlled Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
Picking up on the minority issue, The Economist said the Muslim issue has been complicated by electoral politics.
“Anti-Muslim sentiment is widespread and deep-seated in Myanmar; the USDP would not be the first political party to stir up ethnic grievances for political gain.
“Though Ma Ba Tha [the Buddhist nationalist group] and the USDP generally deny explicit affiliation, links exist,” it said. “At the Pathein rally a local USDP official sat on the dais with Ma Ba Tha members. The USDP-dominated legislature adopted—and Myanmar’s president, who chairs the USDP, signed into law—four noxious Ma Ba Tha-supported bills, which restrict religious conversion and interfaith marriage, and mandate that women wait 36 months between births: a requirement that many fear will be enforced more stringently against Muslims than Buddhists.” Whether the USDP organizes Ma Ba Tha’s activities or not, their anti-NLD campaigning helps the incumbent party, it wrote.
“Though it is home to scores of ethnic groups, Burmans have not become comfortable with its plural identity,” it said, while noting that a frequent claim justifying military repression is that Myanmar would splinter and disintegrate without it.
“Miss Suu Kyi’s popularity presents Myanmar’s army with the most potent challenge it has ever faced, and the accusations against her represent its last-ditch effort to cling to power,” it concluded.
Aung San Suu Kyi has not been spared sharp criticism questioning her tactical methods and ability to govern as the leader of a new government.
On Nov. 5, The Wall Street Journal questioned her ability to govern the country effectively. There is “growing concern abroad and in some quarters at home about whether she is the best person to lead Myanmar as it takes steps toward democracy and tries to rebuild its economy by opening up to foreign businesses.”
It said that several foreign diplomats reported Suu Kyi has made it difficult for them to forge ties with the current government of President Thein Sein, “which many nations believe has taken significant strides toward openness, even as others have questioned its commitment to reform.
“She often bristles when nations cooperate with the government, saying it legitimizes an administration that is keeping her from leadership,” it wrote.
Writing in the Bangkok Post on Saturday, Nehginpao Kipgen, a US-based author, said “given the past five-year record of the USDP government under President Thein Sein and the present state of the peace process with ethnic armed groups, it is likely that Thein Sein will be nominated for president unless he is ostracized by the military leadership, or if he voluntarily decides to resign.”
He concluded: “As long as the 2008 constitution is not amended or replaced, the dominant role of the military will continue, which means Myanmar’s democratization process will remain inconclusive and there is a danger of it becoming a defective democracy.”
BORDER CROSSING RESTRICTIONS
18:05 November 7, 2015
Myanmar has closed all of its temporary border ports and checkpoints along the Moei River opposite Thailand's Mae Sot, Phop Phra, Mae Ramat and Tha Song Yang districts of Tak. About 20 temporary river ports are affected. The transport of goods through these ports has been suspended.
NO-GO ELECTION TOWNSHIPS
18:00 November 7, 2015
The UEC will not hold elections in five of the country’s 330 townships due to security concerns.
16:20 November 7, 2015
Naing Ngan Lynn, member of Myanmar parliament and candidate of National League for Democracy (NLD) Party, who was attacked and badly injured on the election campaign trail, waves to supporters during a rally in Yangon yesterday, the last day of campaigning.
(Photo: Hong Sar)
USDP CAMPAIGNS WITH MESSAGE OF STABILITY
16:15 November 7, 2015
The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party under President U Thein Sein is pushing the message of stability and union if they are given the mandate to rule again.
16:15 November 7, 2015
Two lots of people have benefited from the election campaign season – T-shirt and hat makers and their sellers! Whether they have been selling green or red T-shirts - or to tourists - they have been busy.
16:10 November 7, 2015
Total 575 foreign journalists and 131 Myanmar journalists working for foreign media are in Myanmar to cover the 2015 elections. This does not include the local Myanmar and foreign journalists working for Myanmar Media. Foreign journalists are given one month visa for election coverage. (Source: MOI)
INTERNATIONAL ELECTION OBSERVERS
15:55 November 7, 2015
The Union Election Commission (UEC) has issued accreditation cards to 470 diplomats from 32 international embassies, 465 staff from six international election observation bodies, 183 staff from nine international organisations that are assisting in electoral processes and 9,406 staff of local observation organisations.
CALL FOR END TO VIOLENCE IN ETHNIC AREAS AS POLLS LOOM
15:30 November 7, 2015
As Myanmar goes to polls, leaders and civilian-based organizations of ethnic nationalities are calling for genuine peace and an end to institutionalized violence, writes Sai Wansai.
UN Special Rapporteur to Myanmar Yanghee Lee has sent her best wishes to the people of Myanmar as the country goes to the polls.
In a Tweet, she said the following:
#MyanmarElection will be a monumental moment for the people & define the future of Myanmar! My heartfelt good wishes to all.
CRYSTAL BALL GAZING – POST ELECTION SCENARIOS
14:50 November 7, 2015
Commentators are scrambling for credible outcomes following Myanmar’s historic national election on Sunday. After the balloting smoke clears, a few things are certain – sort of – maybe.
The most certain fact is that the world will be left hanging for many months before the probable name of new president emerges, following weeks or months of tense negotiations. The actual vote to select the new president will come sometime after a new Parliament convenes in January 2016. The president will then name his portfolio ministers and a new government will be formed.
Assuming the National League for Democracy has a great turnout and a massive win, a few scenarios can be outlined ranging from the solid fact to the far-out.
From the top:
NO PRESIDENCY FOR SUU KYI
It’s 100 percent certain Aung San Suu Kyi will not become president: she is blocked by a clause in the 2008 Constitution because her late husband and two children are foreign nationals.
The military generals will remain the country’s ultimate power brokers because the Constitution allots them 25 percent of the seats in Parliament, ensuring controversial changes require the military’s approval. There’s also a Constitutional clause giving the military the right to declare a state of emergency and dissolve the government if it sees a threat to national security.
CHALLENGE FOR NLD
To avoid the need to form a coalition government, the NLD needs to win two-thirds of the contested seats to ensure it has an outright majority, enabling it to elect a president of its choice who will then form the new government.
Barring that, it must seek coalition support. In spite of some resentment among various ethnic parties, who bristle at the NLD running against its candidates in their constituencies, commentators say an effective coalition would likely fall in place (it need only last through the vote for the president).
The most complex (far out?) scenario involving the presidency, put forward by the BBC on Friday, involves horse trading between Suu Kyi and President Thein. While it seems improbable, politics is known for shifting alliances.
Thein Sein could be offered a partial second term presuming he agreed to serve as a bridge for change, smoothing the way with military elements. Suu Kyi said last week, not in reference to a Thein Sein deal, that a great landslide vote would in effect give the NLD a mandate for pushing rapid changes such as amending the Constitution and more sweeping democratic policies aimed at improving the economic lives of those most in need. In the face of a win of 80-90 percent of the seats, would Thein Sein join the bandwagon and personally oversee a slightly swifter move to a “discipline-flourishing democracy?”
THE MAN IN WAITING
Suu Kyi might also turn to another former military man, current Speaker of the House Shwe Mann, who has become a strong ally, with the hope that he would garner enough military approval to avoid a strong push-back. His black card is that he was ousted in August in a military-like putsch from his seat as joint leader of the government-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
Another ringer: Might Suu Kyi put forward a woman for the job of president?
With a massive majority win, would she be so bold as to go for the unexpected, since only this week she said that she herself would be the ex-officio leader of the new government, providing the NLD wins big enough, and is given the mandate to form the government. She said she has someone in mind for the top job, but there was no hint whether it would be a person within the NLD ranks or an outsider, possibly a current or former military figure.
POSSIBLE HOUSE SPEAKER?
Another twist might be Suu Kyi takes up the role of speaker of the house, placing herself in the centre of the legislative-drafting body.
The Thein Sein government mantra has been “managed transition” to democracy. The full meaning of the phrase is now being tested. It will require the NLD, the current government – and the formation process of the next government – to unfold smoothly.
The current government wants to polish its image of democratic change, and in order not to backslide it must
be seen as conforming to international standards of fairness if it wishes to continue gaining economic benefits. As the recent Princeton Report, surveying the coming election, wrote: “The regime is also eager, however, to maintain a share of political power.” In this regard, the government seeks to emulate the slow transitions in places like Indonesia, Taiwan, and South Korea, while avoiding the more turbulent paths seen in the Arab Spring countries.
Enough scenarios to sink a ship of state? Well, yes, that’s politics, the art of compromise, the art of the possible, the art of imagination – sometimes it’s too conservative, sometimes too liberal, but sometimes, at best, it’s something that works well to represent the will of the people.
HELP FROM ‘DOWN UNDER’
14:20 November 7, 2015
Australian Senator Scott Ludlam (@SenatorLudlam ) from the Australian Green's Party is helping monitor the advance vote counting procedure in Taunggyi, Shan State. Photo by Mr Ludlam.
MA BA THA MESSAGE TO MANDALAY?
13:45 November 7, 2015
Mandalay residents report finding leaflets from an anonymous source on their doorsteps this morning, encouraging voters not to vote for the National League for Democracy and warning of the potential for a “Muslim government.” The Buddhist nationalist Ma Ba Tha has been seeking to influence the upcoming election, despite publicly saying followers should not get involved in politics.
Mandalay is home to prominent and outspoken monk U Wirathu who has been vocal about what he claims is a "threat" posed by Muslims who make up about 5 percent of Myanmar's population.
"Yes, it's time to change.
But, not with NLD
For the future of our religion and race
We must change what should be changed.
Current government is not good, right?
Okay, it is not as bad as a Muslim government
We will reform the current government by public power
We cannot give power in the hands of NLD which rely on Muslims and count on Muslims."
Note found on the doorsteps of many homes in Mandalay.
WHY THE NUMBER 333 IS CRUCIAL TO SUU KYI'S PARTY
13:30 November 7, 2015
As long-time Myanmar journalist Thiha Saw pointed out on Mizzima's The Election Show Live this morning, the National League for Democracy has a crucial target to aim for in the November 8 national polls tomorrow.
As he said, the NLD has to win 333 or more seats in the lower and upper parliaments to win the chance to elect their choice of president.
The lower and uppers houses of parliament have a total of 664 seats. Winning 333 or more seats is crucial to the NLD.
Follow Mizzima's The Election Show Live (above) for more insight into the poll.
EFFORT FOR TRANSPARENCY
13:00 November 7, 2015
The Union Election Commission (UEC) will open two Election Results Centers so that stakeholders can view official results as they are declared, the UEC said in a statement ahead of the election.
The media centers will be located at the Union Election Commission (UEC) in Nay Pyi Taw and UEC Information Center in Shwe Li street, Yangon. Accredited journalists and elections observers will be allowed to enter the media centers.
Members of civil society, and political parties that are not accredited will also be able to enter the Election Results Center provided they register with the UEC. Election results will be shown by LED screen, and media can access through their representatives. The media center in UEC information center, Shwe Li street, Yangon will be open from November 8th to November 12th during 8 AM to 8 PM.
QUESTION ABOUT THE LIGITIMACY OF THE ELECTIONS
12:45 November 7, 2015
The legitimacy of Myanmar’s upcoming general election, scheduled for this Sunday, 8 November, has already been profoundly undermined by government decisions in the lead-up to the poll, ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) said yesterday.
“Regardless of what happens on election day, fundamental flaws, which have gone unaddressed, mean that this vote cannot be considered free, fair, inclusive, or credible,” said APHR Chairperson and Malaysian MP Charles Santiago. The collective of parliamentarians pointed to widespread disenfranchisement, the deliberate exclusion of specific ethnic and religious minorities, and a failure to amend the fundamentally undemocratic 2008 constitution as factors preventing the election from constituting a true reflection of the will of the Myanmar people. “International observers will likely harp on technical aspects of Sunday’s vote. But even if everything goes perfectly on that front — a highly unlikely outcome, decisions by the government have already rendered this contest far short of real democracy,” Santiago added.
SOCIAL MEDIA IMPORTANT
12:35 November 7, 2015
Social media will be a gamechanger for this election - journalist Thiha Saw
LOOKING TO SUNDAY’S POLL
12:30 November 7, 2015
Yesterday was the last official day for election campaigning. So far one candidate has died.
PROMINENT MONK POSTS NEGATIVE POLITICAL 'POEM'
10:34 November 7, 2015
Outspoken monk Ashin Wirathu put up a poem on his Facebook page yesterday effectively badmouthing the opposition National League for Democracy ahead of the election, though not directly using the party name.
U Wirathu has been outspoken in his support of President U Thein Sein, but critical of the NLD. The nationalist Ma Ba Tha group, to which U Wirathu belongs, has made public statements calling on its followers not to interfere in politics. U Wirathu has not been following that advice.
The "poem," while not directly naming the NLD, is aimed at Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's party.
LIGHTER LOOK AT THE POLLS - WITH A SERIOUS MESSAGE
10:05 November 7, 2015
Cartoon used with permission.
BLOCKED VOTERS FAIL TO MARCH IN MANDALAY
10:03 November 7, 2015
A plan to demonstrate today by over 60 families who found their names are not on the voting list in Mandalay appears to have been put on hold.
The media had been informed that the people would march in the city.
The families are upset that they are unable to vote. Several people told Mizzima that they have found they are unable to vote in the polls set for Sunday, November 8.
STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR THE MYANMAR ELECTIONS
09:36 November 7, 2015
As Myanmar approaches historic elections on Sunday, the diplomatic missions of Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the United Nations reaffirm their support for the people of Myanmar.
The message was published in a press release on November 6.
"As international partners and close followers of the electoral process, we call on all stakeholders to ensure that these elections are conducted peacefully, transparently, and in accordance with the will of the people; that the period during and after election day is marked by calm, equitable treatment of all; and that there be dialogue among contending parties and candidates. These elections will be an important milestone in Myanmar’s transition to democracy, and the responsibility for their success rests with the government, political parties, civil society, the media, and most importantly, the people of this country, charting a peaceful, just, and united way forward together. We hope the people of Myanmar will make their voices heard by going to the polls and casting their votes freely. The international community remains committed to support the people of Myanmar throughout the current elections and will continue to follow the process closely through the formation of a new government in 2016," the missions say in their statement.