On brink of victory, Suu Kyi calls for talks with Myanmar military

November 11, 2015 7:07 am
Power beckons for Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy movement as it continues to grab parliamentary seats previously held by the ruling party in army-dominated Myanmar  © AFP/File
Power beckons for Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy movement as it continues to grab parliamentary seats previously held by the ruling party in army-dominated Myanmar
© AFP/File

, YANGON, Nov 11 – Aung San Suu Kyi called for “national reconciliation” talks with Myanmar’s president and the nation’s powerful army chief on Wednesday as her pro-democracy party sat poised for a landslide election victory.

With power beckoning after her National League for Democracy (NLD) party collected 90 percent of the seats declared so far, Suu Kyi moved to take the initiative.

“Citizens have expressed their will in the election,” she said in letters addressed to President Thein Sein, Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing as well as influential parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann.

“I would like to invite you to discuss national reconciliation next week at a time of your convenience.”

The letters, shared by the NLD, come as her democracy movement continued its blitz of ruling party bases following Sunday’s poll.

Myanmar’s balance of power, so long dominated by the army and its allies, appears set to be redrawn.

But Suu Kyi’s supporters remain anxious at how the army will respond to a mauling at the polls.

In 1990 the NLD won its first election, only for the army to swat aside the result and launch a crackdown on dissent.

The NLD took 56 of the 61 lower house seats announced on Wednesday as it continued to sweep towards a landslide.

It is well on the way to the majority needed to form a government.

Suu Kyi, the democracy movement’s magnetic force, securing tens of thousands of votes to retain her seat in Kawhmu constituency.

But she is barred from the presidency by an army-written constitution.

Suu Kyi, however, has vowed to rule from “above the president”, indicating she will use a proxy to sidestep the bar on her reaching top office.

Parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann has been touted by many as a candidate for the role.

Despite the deluge of results in their favour, election officials have resisted pressure to declare the NLD winners.

That has brought frustration to NLD supporters, many of whom have waited 25 years since the party last contested a poll to cast a ballot in their favour.

“We know we won 80 percent… hopefully we will get confirmation today,” said Ko Ko, who runs an air-conditioning company in Yangon.

“We expect Daw Suu to change the country… I voted for change.”

– Ruling party in tatters –

Sunday’s election has left the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in tatters.

It has taken just a handful of seats so far, with several party heavyweights being bundled out off their constituencies by voters.

Before the landmark poll President Thein Sein vowed his party — and the powerful army — would respect the result.

“These were free and fair elections,” his spokesman Zaw Htay told AFP on Wednesday.

“We are waiting for the (official) results,” he added when asked if the president would formally concede defeat.

Stacked with former military men, the USDP has led a quasi-civilian government since 2011.

The party says it has guided the country through the major economic and social reforms that led to Sunday’s election, which saw 80 percent voter turnout.

Its critics condemn it as a stooge of the army, which ruled as a junta for half a century.

The army is gifted 25 percent of all parliamentary seats under a constitution scripted to ensure its stake in the future.

In addition to blocking Suu Kyi’s path to top office, the charter also hands the military key security posts.

The NLD needs 67 percent of the contested seats to form a government without coalition partners.

A bigger winning margin gives it a stronger hand in parliament with political wrangling ahead.


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