By Dean Nelson, Rangoon1:The elections had been “conducted in a very successful way,” he said during a summit of the Association of South East Asian nations in Phnom Penh today, while his top advisers said he was relaxed about the scale of the National League for Democracy’s victory.
Burma’s election commission formally announced the NLD had won 40 of the 44 seats it contested while party leaders said they expected to win at least three more.
The by-election contests marked Burma’s first free vote since the 1990 constituent assembly elections when the NLD won a similar landslide shortly before the country’s military rulers annulled the result.
Since the scale of its latest victory began to emerge – the NLD won 95 per cent of the seats compared with 82 per cent in 1990 – observers have voiced concerns that it may alarm hardliners in the country’s military establishment and jeopardise the government’s democratisation process.
But one of President Thein Sein’s leading advisers told The Daily Telegraph he had hoped for a strong NLD contingent in the parliament and that he would not be diverted from his reforms.”[The results] are a reflection of this desire within the government. He [President Thein Sein] went into it with his eyes wide open, [and clear that] the result would be recognised,” said Nay Zin Latt.
He said the president believes Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD group of MPs will liven the relatively new parliament’s proceedings and improve the quality of its debates. The parliament, which was elected through a questionable election in 2010, has been low key so far despite passing a number of votes in favour of prisoner releases and trade union rights.
“Parliament will be more active. It won’t make the government’s work harder, but there will be more balance, more inputs and it will be more promising,” he said.
He rejected suggestions that some of the president’s civilian and military supporters might panic at the prospect of the result being replicated in the 2015 general election which would see the pro-government Union Solidarity and Development Party completely wiped out.
“He’s not concerned, you can’t see the future, even tomorrow you can’t say what will happen, everyone can guess,” he said.
Fellow senior presidential adviser Ko Ko Hlaing said while the president’s team had been surprised by the scale of Ms Suu Kyi’s victory. “I could guess that the NLD would take the lion’s share in these elections, but I didn’t expect this much of a landslide victory for them. The people are quite excited by this electoral process and they would like to show their mind and hope for change,” he told The Washington Post.
Leaders of ASEAN yesterday called for the lifting of international sanctions after the by-elections. Western powers are poised to do so to help bolster reforms, following the landmark poll.
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