Myanmar’s Suu Kyi vows victory in election as campaign starts amid virus surge

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi, India Updated: Sep 09, 2020, 08:26 AM(IST)

Myanmar's de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi wears a face shield and mask as she attends a flag-raising ceremony for the National League for Democracy (NLD) party to mark the first day of election campaigning in Naypyidaw, Myanmar on Tuesday Photograph:( AFP )

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Suu Kyi is by far the country's most popular politician, even as she has been scorned internationally for Myanmar's oppression of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic group.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi raised her party's flag at its office in the capital Tuesday to start an election campaign that may be disrupted by a resurgence of the coronavirus.

Her National League for Democracy party is widely expected to again win the most seats in the November 8 general election and Suu Kyi is expected to remain as state counsellor, the de facto head of state.

Also read: Myanmar sets November 8 as the date for parliamentary election

The main opponents will be the Union Solidarity and Development Party, formed by former generals. Myanmar was under military rule from 1962 until a nominally civilian government took over in 2011.

Suu Kyi is by far the country's most popular politician, even as she has been scorned internationally for Myanmar's oppression of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic group.

Also read: Election countdown starts in Myanmar under virus shadow

Her party, the National League for Democracy, which won a landslide at 2015 polls that ended half-a-century of military and military-backed rule, is expected to win again though by a lesser margin.

The party remains overwhelmingly popular despite criticism over its failure to curb the power of the army or end escalating ethnic conflicts. It has also faced international condemnation over a 2017 military crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Two Myanmar soldiers have been taken to The Hague after confessing to murdering minority Rohingya Muslims during a 2017 crackdown, two news organisations and a rights group reported on Tuesday.

The constitution was written by the former Junta.  The Armed Forces control three key ministries and 25 percent of parliamentary seats, effectively giving them a veto on legislation.

Therefore, Suu Kyi and her party needs every vote. They cannot just get more than 50 percent of the elected seats like in a normal democracy.

For now, getting people to vote might be a challenge. Cases have spiked suddenly after Myanmar registered months of relatively low numbers. The health ministry reported 92 more cases on Tuesday morning, bringing the total to 1,610.

The western state of Rakhine, where the vast majority of the new cases have been found, is under lockdown, as are parts of Yangon. Restrictions are in force in several other cities, including the capital, Naypyitaw.

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