In Myanmar, Suu Kyi raises hopes for democracy

// World | In Myanmar, Suu Kyi raises hopes for democracy
Email to a friend Plain text Print version // Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

After spending 15 years under house arrest, persecuted for her belief's, Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has has won a seat in parliament, her party said.

By Ian Williams, NBC News

YANGON, Myanmar– At 69 years old, Khin Shwe has witnessed countless false promises and frustrated hopes in her country's tragic and often brutal history.

"I really believe this represents change," she told me early Sunday morning, as she left polling station No. 3, housed in a school classroom in the dusty township of Kawhmu.

Like so many here, Khin Shwe was putting her faith – and her vote – behind Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-democracy leader running for a seat in Myanmar’s parliament. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who was persecuted for her beliefs, spent 15 years under house arrest.


Suu Kyi, 66, had been up early, inspecting the polling stations. Last week, she expressed concerns about possible cheating.

While there have been reports of minor irregularities, most election observers I spoke to were impressed with the organization of the vote.

"I've monitored polls all across Southeast Asia, from Thailand to Singapore, and this is as good as it could be," said Kyaw Yin Hlaing of Hong Kong's City University.

One American observer, who asked not to be named, was visibly moved by what she witnessed: "Finally seeing this happen! What took them so long?"

Diplomats were also out in force. A representative from the Chinese embassy shook my hand. "Did you think it was free and fair?" he asked me, without a hint of irony.

There were 88,000 voters and 129 polling stations in Suu Kyi's Kawhmu constituency, to the south of Yangon. Suu-Kyi’s carnival-like cavalcade has attracted crowds everywhere it has traveled this weekend.

The polls closed at 4 p.m. with the ritual of an election official calling through loud speakers for any final voters to come forward.

Then the counting began. At polling station No. 3, we joined observers from abroad as the paper ballots were counted. There were 1,112 ballots at this station – a 72 percent voter turnout. Then the ballots were divided according to the votes cast into trays for Suu Kyi’s opponents and a big box for those cast for her.

One election official could hardly contain himself: "She has a big box, because she will be earning most of the votes," he said, giggling uncontrollably.

It came as no real surprise, and crowds gathering outside speculated on the size of Suu Kyi's win.

"Ninety-percent!" ventured one young woman.

"Ninety-five!" replied her friend.

It could be days before the result is official, but Suu Kyi appears to have won a seat in parliament by a landslide.

When I returned to Yangon on Sunday evening, traffic was gridlocked around the run-down headquarters of the National League for Democracy, Suu Kyi's party. The road was blocked by a euphoric crowd singing and chanting to a hip-hop beat. A big screen gave the party’s unofficial results, which claimed 41 of the 44 seats contested in Sunday's election.

That's a fraction of the total 664 seats in parliament, but this is still a massive step forward for Myanmar.

On the fringes of the crowd I met a singer who I had interviewed on an earlier trip to Myanmar. She had been working on songs in support of Suu Kyi, which that could have landed her in jail just a year ago.

"Can you believe it? Can you believe it?" she said. "There's no going back now."

More from msnbc.com and NBC News:

Follow us on Twitter: @msnbc_world

Tagged : No tags for this article

Headlines Newsview all

Peter Christopher, 48, Rapes Girl, 8, Offers Her Family N25,000 As Compensation

An eight-year-old girl has narrated how she was allegedly raped by their 48-year-old neighbour, Mr. Peter Christopher, one afternoon in the building her family shared ... Full story

Female Suicide Bomber Arrested In Cameroon (Photos)

Cameroon military have recorded massive successes as they have reportedly foiled two major bomb attacks.  Earlier, we gave you a report of a female suicide bomber ... Full story

Giant Snake Found At Daniella Okeke’s House

The actress said the massive snake was found at her backyard yesterday. I think that surrounding needs a little weeding. That plants surrounding the building ... Full story

Ex-Lawmaker Jailed 7 Years Jail For Drug Trafficking

A former member of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, Missa Bobbo, and a notorious drug baron, Bappa Madu, of Ngurore town have been sentenced ... Full story

Notorious, Cold Hearted Kidnapper Kills 7 Including His GirlFriend In One Day

On Saturday, February 16, 2013, Henry Chibueze, a notorious kidnapper terrorizing South East and South South parts of the country, stormed the home of his ... Full story

We Live Like Rats, Yet Nigerians Citizens Want Us To Be Their Friends - Nigerian Policemen

He was drenched with sweat by the time he wriggled himself through the narrow entrance of his room into the passageway. Looking very depressed and ... Full story

Nollywood Actress, Gloria Young Causes Scene At Bank

Popular actress, Gloria Young, is currently not a happy customer. The iconic actress was recently spotted at a bank where she created a scene and ... Full story

Generator Repairer Stabbed To Death By Scavenger

A 19-year-old scrap metal scavenger, Mohammed Bello, is in custody of the Department of Criminal Investigation, Yaba, Lagos for allegedly stabbing a generator repairer, Taiwo ... Full story

MJ's Famous White Sequined Glove Sells At Auction For £41,000

A sequined glove worn by Michael Jackson has been sold at auction for a whopping $64,000. Bidding for the iconic fashion piece started at $20,000, around ... Full story

Nigerian Arrested In Iceland For Infecting Women With HIV

A Nigerian man who arrived Iceland last August, has been arrested for deliberately infecting women with the HIV. Police are currently investigating the case, particularly as ... Full story

Toke Makinwa Returns With Vlog Of The Week (Video)

What's the worst thing that can happen...you'll be single. Is singlehood so bad? Watch Rhythm FM OAP, Toke Makinwa's Vlog of the Week.  She has been ... Full story

Comment on: In Myanmar, Suu Kyi raises hopes for democracy

Rate this article

0

Breaking News

My Wife Didn’t Like Our Son’s Music Career - Femi Falana

Music sensation, Falz, is enjoying every moment in the spotlight but before he got there, he had to cross some hurdles at home. Saturday Beats ...

My Mum Always Warned Me About Women - Mike Godson

In a recent interview with The Entertainer, fast rising Nollywood actor, Mike Godson revealed one of his best kept advices from his mum. The Imo ...

Checkout What Actress, Moji Olaiya Invested Several Millions On

Nollywood actress, Moji OLaiya, has joined the train of entertainers who are investing their money wisely to diversify into other businesses. Rather than remain dependent on ...

Omotola Jalade Causes Stare With Outfit (Photos)

Nollywood actress, Omotola Jalade, is really making a lot of men to salivate with her beauty which continues to radiate as the day goes by. The ...

Naira Has Recovered In Black Market, Checkout New Rate

Relief has come for individuals who are looking to change currency in the black market as the rate of naira to a dollar increased yesterday, ... Full story

Mario Balotelli's Liverpool Career Is Over

Mario Balotelli's career might be finally over at Anfield as he has been left out of trainings and tour.  Mario Balotellli's career in Liverpool may just ... Full story

Jay-Jay Okocha Returns To Football

Former captain of Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha may be on his way back to English football. The former Botlon Wanderers skipper, who is ... Full story

Yemi Alade | Duro Timi VIDEO Premiere

2015 MTV Africa Music Awards “Best Female” award winner Yemi Alade premieres the music visual for “Duro Timi“; a Sizzle Pro produced emotive ballad sheltered on her acclaimed ...

Olamide Gushes About Adekunle Gold

There is a popular saying that anything worth doing is worth doing well. With this saying, singer, Olamide, seems not to have any regrets signing ...

Tonto Dikeh Reveals Her Belly To Her Fans (Photo)

For those rumour peddlers who had stated that Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh, is pregnant, well, the actress has openly revealed herself for all to see. The ...