Myanmar’s Suu Kyi hopes victory is dawn of new era

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar election officials confirmed Monday that Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party won a landslide victory in historic by-elections. The democracy icon said she hopes the vote will mark the start of a new era for the long-repressed country.

Suu Kyi spoke to thousands of cheering supporters who gathered outside her party’s headquarters a day after the closely watched balloting.

“The success we are having is the success of the people,” Suu Kyi said, as the sea of supporters chanted her name and thrust their hands in the air to flash “V” for victory signs.

The state Election Commission confirmed that her National League for Democracy had swept to a victory that will put it at the head of a small opposition bloc in the military-dominated parliament.

State radio and television broadcast the commission’s announcement that the NLD had won 40 of the 45 seats at stake.

The NLD’s own count gave it 43 seats, while it awaited results from one constituency in distant Shan state. It failed to contest one constituency after its candidate was disqualified.

“It is not so much our triumph as a triumph of the people who have decided that they have to be involved in the political process in this country,” Suu Kyi said. “We hope this will be the beginning of a new era.”

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate will take public office for the first time and lead the NLD in parliament, where it will hold just about 6 percent of the seats.

The victory, however, marks a major milestone in the Southeast Asian nation, which is emerging from a ruthless era of military rule, and is an astonishing reversal of fortune for a woman who became one of the world’s most prominent prisoners of conscience.

Nay Zin Latt, an adviser to President Thein Sein, said he was “not really surprised that the NLD had won a majority of seats” in the by-election. Asked if Suu Kyi might be given a Cabinet post, he said: “Everything is possible. She could be given any position of responsibility because of her capacity.”

The victories for Suu Kyi’s party included all four seats up for grabs in the capital, Naypyitaw, which is populated by civil servants, in an embarrassing sign of defeat for the government.

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