Suu Kyi 'wins Seat' in Myanmar Parliament
Democracy icon's party says she has triumphed in by-election contest seen as test of government's commitment to reform.
Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has been elected to the country's parliament in landmark by-elections, according to her National League for Democracy (NLD).
A senior party member, speaking shortly after polls closed on Sunday, said that Suu Kyi, who spent years as a political prisoner, had secured more than 80 per cent of votes in the constituency of Kawhmu, south of Yangon.
The announcement prompted cheers and celebrations from crowds of NLD supporters, although official results are not expected for days.
"Reports are coming through that Suu Kyi has won the polls in Kawhmu, a very poor, rural part of Myanmar ... That is a place where she spent the night on Saturday night, with the locals out there. She has been out there campaigning a couple of times, where she has received an incredible response," said Al Jazeera's Wayne Hay, reporting from Yangon..
Sunday's vote is seen as a key test of the military-backed civilian government's commitment to recent democratic reforms.
Hay said that provisional results from further north, an area near the city of Mandalay, where there were 10 seats up for grabs also suggested that NLD was ahead in eight of those seats.
More than six million people were eligible to vote on Sunday, with a total of 160 candidates from 17 parties, including six new to the political stage, contesting for 45 parliamentary seats.
The number of seats at stake is not enough to threaten the military-backed ruling party's overwhelming majority, secured in full elections in 2010.
Suu Kyi's apparent victory had been widely expected, despite complaints by the NLD over alleged voting irregularities and campaign intimidation.
She said she did not regret standing for parliament because the polls had boosted people's interest in politics after decades of outright military rule ended last year.
The government for the first time invited teams of foreign observers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN], European Union and the US, and journalists to witness the elections.
Since taking office a year ago, President Thein Sein has carried out reforms including releasing hundreds of political prisoners, easing media restrictions and welcoming the opposition back into mainstream politics.
Our correspondent, reporting earlier from Kawhmu, said: "There are international monitors on the ground, but they are not allowed inside the polling booths. They are certainly not allowed to oversee the counting when that starts later on Sunday."
"So, they are here to observe overall process, talk to voters about any irregularities that they might have seen," he said.
"What we are hearing is that some voters have complained that voting sheets have been tampered with. Some voters have complained that inside the polling stations some of the officials have been coercing voters into voting for a certain party.
"So, not the best of starts, but certainly something the National League for Democracy and Suu Kyi were expecting."
Nyan Win, a spokesman for the party, told the AFP news agency on Sunday that his party had submitted a letter of complaint to the country's election commission regarding alleged irregularities involving ballot papers that could potentially be invalidated without due cause.
The NLD won a landslide election victory in 1990 but the ruling military never allowed it to take office. The party also boycotted the 2010 polls that swept the army's political proxies to power and were marred by complaints of cheating and intimidation.
Suu Kyi, who spent most of the past 22 years as a political prisoner, described the vote as "a step towards step one in democracy", despite complaining on Friday that the polls were not "genuinely free and fair".
"What has been happening in this country is really beyond what is acceptable for a democratic election. Still, we are determined to go forward because we think that is what our people want," the Nobel peace laureate said.
On 9 November 1996, the motorcade that she was traveling in with other National League for Democracy leaders Tin Oo and U Kyi Maung, was attacked in Yangon. About 200 men swooped on the motorcade, wielding metal chains, metal batons, stones and other weapons. The car that Aung San Suu Kyi was in had its rear window smashed, and the car with Tin Oo and U Kyi Maung had its rear window and two backdoor windows shattered. It is believed the offenders were members of the Union Solidarity Development Association (USDA) who were allegedly paid 500 kyats (@ USD $0.5) each to participate. The NLD lodged an official complaint with the police, and according to reports the government launched an investigation, but no action was taken. (Amnesty International 120297)
Aung San Suu Kyi has been placed under house arrest on numerous occasions since she began her political career, totalling 15 of the past 21 years. During these periods, she had been prevented from meeting her party supporters and international visitors. In an interview, Suu Kyi said that while under house arrest she spent her time reading philosophy, politics and biographies that her husband had sent her. She would also occupy her time by playing the piano and was occasionally allowed visits from foreign diplomats as well as her personal doctor.
The media have also been prevented from visiting. In 1998, journalist Maurizio Giuliano, after photographing her, was stopped by customs officials, and all his films, tapes and some notes were confiscated. Suu Kyi met the leader of Burma, General Than Shwe, accompanied by General Khin Nyunt on 20 September 1994, while under house arrest. It was the first meeting since she had been placed in detention. On several occasions during Suu Kyi's house arrest, she has had periods of poor health and as a result has been hospitalized.
Suu Kyi continued to be imprisoned under the 1975 State Protection Act (Article 10 b), which grants the government the power to imprison people for up to five years without a trial, and the Law to Safeguard the State Against the Dangers of Those Desiring to Cause Subversive Acts (Article 10 a), as Suu Kyi is "likely to undermine the community peace and stability" of the country. She has appealed against her detention. Many nations and figures have continued to call for her release and that of 2,100 other political prisoners in the country. On 12 November 2010, days after the junta-backed party – Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) – won the elections which were conducted after a gap of almost 20 years, the junta finally agreed to sign orders allowing Suu Kyi's release. Her house arrest term came to an end on 13 November 2010.
Periods under detention20 July 1989: Placed under house arrest in Rangoon under martial law that allows for detention without charge or trial for three years.
10 July 1995: Released from house arrest.
23 September 2000: Placed under house arrest.
6 May 2002: Released after 19 months.
30 May 2003: Arrested following the Depayin massacre, she was held in secret detention for more than three months before being returned to house arrest.
25 May 2007: House arrest extended by one year despite a direct appeal from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to General Than Shwe.
24 October 2007: Reached 12 years under house arrest, solidarity protests held at 12 cities around the world.
27 May 2008: House arrest extended for another year, which is illegal under both international law and Burma's own law.
11 August 2009: House arrest extended for 18 more months because of "violation" arising from the May 2009 trespass incident.
13 November 2010: Released from house arrest.
This woman has more balls than all the western countries' politicians combined (in my humble opinion). http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-p...416689111.html