YANGON – Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was officially re-elected to her seat in the lower house of parliament Wednesday as her National League for Democracy (NLD) party continued to steam toward victory in the country’s historic elections.
Suu Kyi called on leading members of military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) to meet and discuss what she said would be a decisive win for her opposition party.
The Union Election Commission (UEC) said Wednesday the Nobel peace laureate had won her seat, and that the NLD had now captured 135 lower house seats in the national parliament out of the 151 officially declared.
The opposition has also taken 29 out of 33 seats announced in the upper house.
With the NLD saying it expects to win about 80 percent of the seats up for grabs, Suu Kyi called on President Thein Sein, Shwe Mann, the speaker of the house, and General Min Aung Hlaing to meet with her to discuss the outcome of the elections.
“It is important to implement the people’s will in a peaceful manner for the sake of the country,” she wrote in letters addressed to the three men.
A spokesman for the USDP said Wednesday that Myanmar’s president and the military would respect the results of Sunday’s vote, but added he would meet Suu Kyi only after those are announced by the election commission.
The military government handed power to a semi-civilian government in 2011, but the army still dominates politics after decades in power. Twenty-five percent of seats in the parliament are reserved for the army.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, expressed concern that the election commission was taking so long to announce final results.
“It’s worrisome that the results are taking so long to dribble in, and of course, we’re looking closely at what this means,” Robertson told Al Jazeera. “But far more concerning is the fact that the UEC has the power of investigator, judge and jury in assessing and deciding any election complaints.
“Given the size of the apparent NLD victory, I’m assuming that the military and its allies in the USDP are going to be scraping to hold on to every seat … So it’s entirely plausible to expect more games as this counting process drags on,” he added.
The Associated Press, citing an NLD statement, reported that President Thein Sein congratulated Suu Kyi and promised a peaceful transfer of power. It said a message was received Wednesday from Information Minister Ye Htut on behalf of the president.
The president is quoted as saying: “In accordance with the Union Election Commission’s election results announcement, I would like to congratulate you, the NLD, for leading the race for parliamentary seats.”
Even with a win for her party, Suu Kyi cannot become president under the country’s constitution as she is married to a British citizen and her children have U.K. passports.
Suu Kyi has declared, however, that she will become the country’s de facto leader, acting “above the president,” if her party forms the next government. She described that plan further in interview Tuesday with Singapore’s Channel NewsAsia television.
“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,” she said. “He (the president) will have to understand this perfectly well that he will have no authority. That he will act in accordance with the positions of the party.”