News

Burma's Democracy Leader Hopes Election Win Brings New Era

Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi looks on from behind the gates of the National League for Democracy (NLD) office as supporters and reporters gather, in Yangon, April 2, 2012.
Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi looks on from behind the gates of the National League for Democracy (NLD) office as supporters and reporters gather, in Yangon, April 2, 2012.
Daniel Schearf

Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she hopes her and her party's win in Sunday's election ushers in a new era in Burma. Although she and her National League for Democracy will hold only a fraction of power in parliament, they are expected to be an active opposition to the military-backed government.

Hundreds of supporters and media gathered outside Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy headquarters Monday morning to hear her give a brief victory speech.

The party announced Sunday that she and her fellow NLD candidates swept Burma's by-election, winning almost all of the 45 seats up for grabs.

If confirmed, the results would be a public rebuke of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, which holds an overwhelming majority of parliament seats.

The Nobel Prize winner pledges that when she and her party enter government after more than two decades in political exile, they will cooperate with all those willing to work for national reconciliation.

Aung San Suu Kyi called Sunday’s vote a hopeful sign for democracy and reconciliation in Burma.

"We hope that this will be the beginning of a new era where there will be more emphasis on the rule of the people in the everyday politics of our country,” she said.

Aung San Suu Kyi said the NLD, once in parliament, would continue to push for the rule of law, an end to all ethnic conflicts, and amendments to the constitution.

Amending the military-drafted constitution will be a challenge for the NLD.  Even if it wins all of the seats in Sunday's election it is still only about 7 percent of the several hundred filled by mainly with the military and its supporters.

Those lawmakers have little incentive to support constitutional amendments.  The current constitution guarantees continued military dominance in government, reserving it a quarter of all seats in parliament.

Suzanne DiMaggio, vice president of Global Policy Programs at the Asia Society, says despite the NLD's uphill challenge in parliament, the victory is still relevant.

“In particular now, we have at least the beginning of opposition voices within the parliament - credible opposition voices - and I think this is the beginning of something that will only grow,” she said.

DiMaggio says the election results show it is time for the United States to consider lifting economic sanctions against Burma.

The U.S. and the European Union, among others, restrict trade with Burma because of its human rights record.  The EU trade commissioner on Monday said if the election proves to be free and fair the bloc would consider lifting sanctions at meetings in Brussels on April 21.

The NLD on Friday said it did not expect the election to be free and fair.

Aung San Suu Kyi said the NLD would publicize all irregularities that took place in order to ensure they are not overlooked.  The NLD pointed out names of dead people on voter registration lists as well as multiple voters using the same registration number.

Some voters also complained of wax on voter ballots that did not allow them to be marked properly.

War Thein Kha village in Kawtmu township is Aung San Suu Kyi's constituency.

Ethnic Karen Minorities in the Kawhmu Township, War Thein Kha Village by Daniel Schearf

The poor and remote village was thrust into the spotlight when Burma's most famous prisoner of conscience chose here to register her household.

Nan Myat Myat Thu Win, 23, and her family run a small shop next to the house. She says she hopes Aung San Suu Kyi can help the village's unemployed but she acknowledges even with the election win the NLD would hold little power.

She says, “at least she can present problems such as poverty to parliament.  Whether they are solved or not depends on the government.”

Everyone in War Thein Kha who spoke with VOA counted themselves as Aung San Suu Kyi supporters.

Ninety-five-year-old Daw Aye has lived in the village her whole life.  She says she loves Aung San Suu Kyi and would never vote for the military-backed USDP.

“I don't like them [USDP] so I won't vote for them,” she said. “They have been ruling for a long time. So, it should be Aung San Suu Kyi's time.”

The official election results are not expected for a few days.

The current situation of Burma's ethnic minorities

Loading...
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Romildo Caldas
April 02, 2012 12:30 PM
Burma's Democracy Leader Aung San Suu Kyi recall us the Story of Queen Esther registered in the Bible. Aung is in Burma just for this Historical Event.

by: Optimist
April 02, 2012 9:53 AM
Good news for the people of Myanmar and a victory for Democracy. This is a triumphant victory for world peace in that part of the world. wherever democracy triumphs the world heals a little bit more, and in that part of the world the world heals more than a little. What mystifies me most is, wherever US wants for genuine democracy to flourish they help prop up the suitable candidate to win, and in Ethiopia the US is helping a genocidal dictator to keep his post, just because it suites NEOCONS.

by: Jai Tai
April 02, 2012 8:19 AM
I like to say thanks you on hehalf of Burmese, Shan, Karen and all monorities people in Burma to Aung San Suu Kyi, NLD, President Thein and his administration for giving amzaing opportunity to the people of Burma to have thier voices, freedom and hope. Withought their hard work and strong determination, Burma will never see the lights. Thank you!

by: Cả Thộn
April 02, 2012 6:43 AM
Myanmar is in new era. Suu Kyi is a new super star on new stage. I myself give most, if not all, credits to Thei Sein because I believe this man lets good things happen in Myanmar. I hope that Thein Sein and Suu Kyi will work well together to make Myanmar a better country and Myanmarians enjoy better life there.

by: Zayar
April 02, 2012 6:22 AM
I am so happy as a burmese citizen.It is people's victory.The HLUTTAW will be more active .NLD will protect people.

by: Shan
April 02, 2012 5:48 AM
The changing movement in Myanmar is so exciting; that will bring the democracy to one of most poorest country in the world; i really admires Ms Aung San Suu Kyi for her courage and country love and I also think that the Myanmar government had the good decision for their country and for their people. I am happy with the changes in Myanmar and I hope that Vietnamese Leader can be courage like their friends in Myanmar to change the Vietnamese stronger, our people have more democracy and fair.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs