Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD), has reaffirmed her intention of calling the shots if – as seems likely – her party wins the country’s first openly-contested parliamentary elections in 25 years.
Of the 88 seats so far declared by the election commission, the NLD has won 78. The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party has so far won five seats in the 440-strong lower house.
Suu Kyi is barred from running for the presidency as her late spouse was foreign.
“Above the president, I make all the decisions because I’m the leader of the winning party and the president will be one whom we will choose just in order to meet the requirements of the constitution … You have to understand this perfectly well that he will have no authority, that he will act in accordance with the decisions of the party,” she said.
“That is the only way to do it, because in any democratic country, it’s the leader of the winning party who becomes the leader of the government and if this constitution doesn’t allow it, then we’ll have to make arrangements so that we can proceed along usual democratic lines.”
Military influence ‘to be negotiated’
Myanmar, a former British colony, is still heavily under the influence of the military. In the first-past-the-post vote, 25 percent of the seats in the new parliament will be allotted to representatives of the armed forces.
“Whether it’s the military or any other body, collaboration and cooperation is something you have to work at. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to learn to build it up by working, not just in a theoretical way. So how we deal with the situation depends on how the situation evolves. It’s not something you can set hard and fast rules for,” said Suu Kyi.
“The NLD has said officially that the 25 percent (of seats that the military holds) must go in time, because it is not in line with democratic practices, we will negotiate the way in which this is approached, in the interest of reconciliation.”
The vote was closely monitored by European Election observers. Chief Observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff gave a summary:
“The process went better than many expected beforehand. It is also true, however, that more is needed, more reforms are needed to ensure truly genuine elections can take place in the future.”
Washington has hailed the vote a victory for the people of Myanmar, but says sanctions will remain in place as it waits for the democratic process to move forward.