Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Burmese Union Election Commission (UEC) announced on state TV on Monday the names of 40 MPs-elect in the April 1 by-elections. Results for five more parliamentary seats will be available soon, it said.
All of the 40 confirmed winners are National League for Democracy (NLD) candidates: 35 seats in the Lower House, three seats in the Upper House and two seats in regional or state assemblies. The NLD on Monday said it may have won in 43 or more constituencies.
The 35 seats of in the Lower House included all six seats in Rangoon region's six constituencies and all four constituencies in Naypyitaw, the captital.
Meanwhile, according to the NLD, in the Rangoon constituencies, Aung San Suu Kyi won over 85 per cent of the vote in Kawhmu: she received 55,902 votes compared to 9,172 for her strongest rival, Dr. Soe Min, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) candidate; a third candidate Tin Yi of the Unity and Peace Party (UPP) received 397 votes, according to the NLD.
The parliamentary by-elections were contested by a total of 157 candidates represent 17 political parties and independents, competing for 45 vacant parliamentary seats in 45 township constituencies in nine regions or states: Yangon, Mandalay, Ayeyawaddy, Sagaing, Tanintharyi, Bago, Magway, Mon and Shan as well as Naypyitaw.
An adviser to President Thein Sein said the government was surprised by the scope of the NLD victory.
“I think the Obama government, they are starting to believe that we are really changing, but we need to convince the other guys in Congress,” adviser Ko Ko Hlaing said in an interview with The Washington Post.
He said the president’s relationship with Suu Kyi, whom he has personally met only one time, is grounded on a strong understanding based on actions rather than words. Representatives of the two sides were in regular contact, he told the Post.
Will the election qualify as free and fair and prompt the quick removal of significant western sanctions?
U.S. officials said Sunday’s poll represents a “significant step,” despite reports of some campaign and election irregularities. Suu Kyi has not yet given a pronouncement on the overall election’s fairness. The NLD is in the process of compiling a report of abuses and irregularities.
“There are tangible moments that demand a tangible response to support ongoing reform,” said a senior U.S. administration official. The possibilities include a lifting of visa bands for travel to the United States; nominate a U.S. ambassador to Burma, lift some minor sanctions by presidential order; or initiate military exchanges.
The most dramatic action would be lifting U.S. sanctions barring foreign investment in Burma and imports from the country. That will probably be withheld barring more dramatic democratic reforms, including the release of all political prisoners and establishing a last peace in ethnic areas, where war has raged for decades.
“For now, people on the Hill are open to giving small things that are reversible,” a congressional aide told the Post. “I don’t think there’s any appetite yet for lifting the major sanctions.”
The by-elections were observed by foreign diplomats and United Nations officials based in Burma as well as more than 150 invited international observers and media persons from Asean, and its dialogue partners, including the European Union and the United States. The parliamentary by-election was the first held in the new era of the civil government after decades of no elections under military rule.
Suu Kyi, in a speech at NLD party headquarters, invited all parties to join together for national reconciliation and to bring peace and prosperity to the country. The NLD victory was a “people’s victory,” she said.