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Live By-Election Coverage ::NLD says it may have won 44 seats in Parliament

April 1, 2012

Late Sunday night, NLD officials were cautiously jubilant, saying they may have won 44 constituencies in the historic by-election that places Aung San Suu Kyi in the center of opposition politics in Burma. Their forecast was based on unofficial results.

Early Sunday morning candidate Aung San Suu Kyi visited several villages and greeted voters in Kawhmu Township, where she stayed overnight prior to election day. She left the township to return to her home in Rangoon around 10:30 a.m.  Photo: MizzimaEarly Sunday morning candidate Aung San Suu Kyi visited several villages and greeted voters in Kawhmu Township, where she stayed overnight prior to election day. She left the township to return to her home in Rangoon around 10:30 a.m. Photo: Mizzima

Aung San Suu Kyi issued a National League for Democracy (NLD) notification for all NLD candidates to be gracious in victory, and to be prepared to work with other opposition parties and the ruling government.

The Union Election Commission said the official results would be certified in about one week. 

Surprisingly, the NLD said its candidates did well in Naypyitaw, the seat of the government-backed United Solidarity and Development Party. 
Based on unofficial results, the NLD said the vote count at polling station number 3 in Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township constituency indicated Phyu Phyu Thin easily won and will go to Parliament. Phyu Phyu Thin heads the NLD’s volunteer HIV/AIDS relief center in Rangoon.

An interesting sidelight: Former chief of Military Intelligence and former Primer Minister Khin Nyunt teased reporters on Sunday, saying that he cast his ballot for a party that is supported by many people.

Khin Nyunt, along with his wife and son, went to a polling station at Ward No. 7 in Mayangon Township, Rangoon, about 9 a.m, said reporter Lin Bo Bo. Journalists asked him which party he favored, and he said a party that is popular.

His son, Zaw Naing Oo, said that he personally voted for the “Fighting Peacock” [the NLD].

President Thein Sein cast his ballot in the Zabuthiri constituency in Naypyitaw on Sunday morning. Observers said the government-backed ruling party candidates would do well around Naypyitaw, the home of many state employees. When reporters asked the president about the election, he said: “Everything is fine.” Some observers said the government wanted the NLD to win big in order to help having the election determined to be free and fair.

Many Burma observers were holding their breath about voting irregularities, hoping a 2010-like rigged election could be avoided. While it’s still very early, many observers and international reporters are commenting on the relatively minor irregularities and voting abuses in the by-election so far.

88-Generation Student leader Ko Ko Gyi 88-Generation Student leader Ko Ko Gyi Photo: Mizzima

When compared to many Asian countries where voting is accompanied by murders, attacks by thugs, rampant, massive vote buying, shameless stuffing of ballots (that could still happen) and other serious, organized abuses, the Burmese by-election may just possibly go down as fairly clean by the standards of the Asian region. But reports over the next few days will be critical to confirm that

If the NLD candidates post a clear victory, it will be hard to claim a rigged election. Campaign abuses, yes; problems with voting rolls, yes; abuses by local polling officials, yes; but outright stealing of the election: that would be hard to claim in face of what looks like the anticipated NLD victory that many Burma observers predicted. While the Union Election Commission members may stumble on procedures and organization, and local EC officials may show favoritism and abuse the process, the same type of lapses occur in all countries.

The most organized abuse seems to be the waxing of ballots, making it difficult for voters to record a vote for the NLD.

A typical example of voting irregularities from our reporter in Rangoon: Kyaw Swe, one of a five-member family based in the Thone Gwa township in Rangoon Division, said all of the family were left off the voter list.

“Even though I reported to the township’s election commission, the office was unable to organize an arrangement for the family to participate in voting,” said Kyaw Swe, adding that his family planned to vote for the National League for Democracy (NLD).

That was a common case in many constituencies in Rangoon, said leading political activist Ko Ko Gyi, especially in Dagon Seikkan and Mayan Gone townships. Ko Ko Gyi is a member of the 88-Generation students who are monitoring the election.

“We have found many complaints from those eligible to vote, who have not been listed to vote, despite that fact that they have national ID cards and are listed in the official census,” Ko Ko Gyi told MizzimaNews.

A 35-year-old voter from Rangoon Division’s Hlegu Township said she could not write down a clear tick mark on her ballot. “Probably, the card was covered with a plastic-like thing [wax],” the woman said.

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