Sunday’s 45-seat by-election in Myanmar was being viewed as a key test for democracy, analysts said.
If it is judged free and fair, the vote could see an end to Western sanctions against a military junta that until recently, has kept the country isolated.
In 2010, Myanmar held full elections for the first time in two decades in a transition to partial civilian rule, although the main military-backed party won about 80 percent of parliamentary seats.
Another historic moment could be the election of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. The 66-year-old is challenging one of the lower house seats up for grabs for the constituency of Kawhmu, about 50 kilometres south of Yangon.
Sunday’s vote will mark the first time that the Nobel Peace Prize winner has been permitted to stand for election after spending more than 15 years under house arrest. Commentators said her candidacy could be her first step towards the Presidency in three years’ time.
But Suu Kyi claims there has been interference and intimidation on the campaign trail.