“We lost,” Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) acting chairman Htay Oo told Reuters on Monday, the day after millions of voters took to the polls in Myanmar. While votes are still being counted, Myanmar’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, is confident it will win more than 70% of seats in the country’s historic election, bringing an end to decades of military rule.
The historic election pitted the military elites against the NLD, which has faced persecution from the generals for over two decades. Under their rule, Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi had been under house arrest for more than 15 years, emerging as a democratic hero. Official results are still days away, but according to analysts early numbers could indicate that the NLD party wins a majority in Parliament, allowing them to choose a president and pass laws without support from the military. Suu Kyi herself is banned from becoming president by the junta-drafted constitution because there are foreigners in her family (her late husband was British).
Suu Kyi remained cautious when talking to reporters on Monday, but suggested that voters had “already understood” the result of the election, saying: “The loser must face the loss bravely and calmly, and the winner must be humble and very magnanimous.” The voting process was largely peaceful, with an estimated 70% turnout of the 30 million eligible voters. Fear that military generals would annul the election result (as they did after a landslide victory for Suu Kyi in 1990) were eased by reports from state media, quoting military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing as saying there was “no reason not to accept the election results.”