Burma’s Opposition Party Wins By-Election in Landslide

Democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi declared a “new era” for Burma Monday, after her party claimed a landslide victory in Sunday’s parliamentary by-elections.

Although official results could take days, the opposition National League for Democracy says it won at least 43 of the 44 seats it had contested. That includes the four seats in the administrative capital, Naypyitaw, which is populated mostly by government workers and military personnel.

Aung San Suu Kyi told a sea of supporters outside NLD headquarters in Rangoon Monday that she hoped the election results will force government to heed the will of ordinary citizens.

“We hope that this is the beginning of the new era, where there will be more emphasis on the role of the people in the everyday politics of the country,” she said.

She appealed to other political parties to help bring democracy and better living conditions to the impoverished country.

“We also hope that the we will be able to go further along the road towards national reconciliation,” she said. “We will welcome all parties who wish to join us in the process of bringing peace and prosperity to our country.”

The Union Solidarity and Development Party, which was formed by the ruling military before it ceded power in a general election last year, will continue to have an overwhelming majority in parliament.

Observers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued a statement Monday saying the election was conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner.

The NLD won a landslide victory in 1990 general elections, but military leaders at the time refused to relinquish power and the victors were refused entry into parliament. Aung San Suu Kyi was held under some form of confinement by the military government for most the the past 22 years.

Voting took place Sunday under the watch of a small group of observers from the European Union and a regional grouping of Southeast Asian nations. However, the monitors were only given a few days to prepare for their mission, and some have said they considered themselves watchers rather than monitors.

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