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
Headlines Newsview all
The power crisis gives people no choice than to rely on generator and power banks in order to keep their gadgets on. We’ve heard several ... Full story
President Goodluck Jonathan has advised the incoming president, Muhammadu Buhari, not to single his administration out for probe. He said if Mr. Buhari must investigate him ... Full story
Rate this article
Liverpool's players showed no signs of a hangover from their 6-1 defeat by Stoke on their end-of-season holiday in Dubai. The squad are on a three-day ... Full story
The Federal government on Tuesday ordered contractors handling airport remodeling projects but failed to deliver, to return N17.6billion back to the government. DAILY POST reports that ... Full story
May 27th is celebrated throughout the world as the Children's Day by World Conference for the Well-being of Children in 1925 and globally recognised since ...
In few weeks’ time, Nollywood actress Halima Abubakar, who has had her fair share of controversy in the Nigeria entertainment industry, will top another year. The ...
Few weeks after his painful demise, the final burial plans for late Nollywood actor Peter Bunor has been officially announced. The Nollywood veteran who passed away ...
Nigerian singer, DJ Zeez, now known as Zeez, has called on parents to learn how to create time for their wards rather than buying them ...
As the world celebrate Children's Day today, Wednesday, May 27, 2015, some Nigerian stars have also decided to be part of it and make it ...
The Nigerian entertainment businessman, Jude Okoye, for some years back had played the role of a big uncle, celebrating with his twin brothers Peter and ...
The mother of Wizkid's four-year-old son, Sola Ogudugu, has disclosed that her first experience doing what adults do in the bedroom was with the music ...
Nollywood actress Nse Ikpe-Etim has hit one of the greatest achievement in life which many have always wished for The actress recently gave her first Tedx ...