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

Court Summons EFCC, Zenith Bank To Defend Freezing Of Fayose?s Account

The Federal High Court, Ado-Ekiti, has summoned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Zenith Bank Plc to show why an order exparte to ... Full story

I Have Exchanged Ideas With Christians Across The Country Says Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari says he has met with Christians from all over the country and exchanged ideas with them, expressing pleasure with the meeting. Buhari, who ... Full story

Nigeria?s Sovereignty Negotiable Says Soyinka

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has added his voice to the ongoing calls for the restructuring of the Nigerian federalism. According to him, the sovereignty of ... Full story

Vice Chancellors Of State Universities Demand Autonomy On Admission Policy

The Association of Vice-Chancellors of State-Owned Universities has asked the federal government to allow the senates of their institutions prescribe the modalities for admission. The Secretary ... Full story

Read How U.S., France Support Convicted Chad Dictator, Habre

The United States and France supported Hissène Habré, the former Chadian dictator who was convicted of atrocity crimes on May 30, 2016, throughout his rule, ... Full story

Fayose And Nigeria?s Immunity Scandal

Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has a solid claim to the title of politician par excellence of Nigeria’s Fourth Republic. In many ways, ... Full story

Arms Deal, Witness Reveals: How Badeh Wanted Me To Claim His Property

The trial of a former Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Air Chief Marshal Alex S. Badeh, continued on Tuesday before Justice Okon Abang of the ... Full story

Why Buhari Ordered Arrest Of Close Ally And Arms Panel Member, Umar

President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the arrest of a key member of the panel investigating the mismanagement of public funds meant for the war against Boko ... Full story

Boko Haram: Nigeria Army Clear Ngoshe,Gava And Rescue 16

Troops of 121 Task Force Battalion, 26 Task Force Brigade, accompanied by a large number of Civilian JTF from Gwoza, Tuesday, embarked on a very ... Full story

Buratai?s Dubai Mansion Has Exposed Hypocrisy In Buhari Government Says Lawyers

Frontline lawyers, Tuesday, told the Federal Government that only security agencies have the statutory duty to clear the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur ... Full story

Wike Resurrects Lloyd?s Murder Trial Case

The Port Harcourt Division of the Court of Appeal has reserved 26th September for hearing of an appeal by a former Leader of the Rivers ... Full story

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

Rate this article

0

Breaking News

Euro 2016 Match Preview: Poland Vrs Portugal

Arguably the new set of dark horses in Euro 2016, Poland and Portugal lock horns at the Stade Vélodrome, Marseille in the first Quarter final ...

Popular Nigerian Music Artiste Proposes To White Girlfriend On The Street Causing Traffic Jam

Nigerian born show-stopper, AdmiralC4C who has made a name for himself on the musical scene in Romania is currently engaged to his baby mama, Ana ... Full story

Super Star: Nigerian Pastor Stages Extravagant Wedding Ceremony In Germany

A Nigerian pastor has become the talk of town after his expensive wedding in faraway Germany. The pastor identified as Benson Oben Bechemayor of The Chapel ... Full story

Forex: Foreign Investors Want Naira Devalued Above 300/$1?

The new foreign exchange regime implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) saw the naira “effectively devalued” from 197 to about 283 against the ...

SO HOT: Nigerian Soft Porn Actress, Afrocandy Show Boobs And Thighs In Skin Tight Dress

Mother of two, Afrocandy looks s*xually appealling in a fading green gown which has attracted accolades from her fans.  From the numerous pictures shared on her ... Full story

Arsenal Block Iwobi From Participating In Rio Olympics

Alex Iwobi is “devastated” after Arsenal finally blocked him from the Rio Olympics, according to AfricanFootball.com. This latest decision thus overrides an earlier position by the ...

Why Are You Looking For A Foreign Coach?

Nigerian sports minister Solomon Dalung has questioned the move by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to appoint a foreign coach when they cannot even pay ...

Super Eagles To Face Lagos All Stars In Honour Of Keshi aAnd Amodu

The Lagos state government in conjunction with the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Football Supporters Club will be organizing a Farewell Testimonial ...

Lil Wayne Ready To Face A Battery Charge In Court If Found Guilty

A bouncer who was working the door at  a party organised by Lil Wayne and 2Chainz has come out to accuse Wayne of punching him ...

Cheating Is Bad; It Destroys Everything Says Toke Makinwa

Media personality, Toke Makinwa covers the latest edition of Glam Africa Magazine. In it she talks about having a member of the opposite sex as ...