Myanmar to hold general elections

Eligible citizens in Myanmar will vote today for the second general election since the country’s military ceded absolute power in

Myanmar elections

Photo: Thein Zaw/ AP

Eligible citizens in Myanmar will vote today for the second general election since the country’s military ceded absolute power in 2011.

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi leads the National League for Democracy (NLD) and is vying against 90 other political parties for control over the country’s 1,171 national, state and regional seats. The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, Myanmar’s bicameral parliament, has 498 seats in contest with the remaining 166 seats reserved for military appointees. Notably, many ethnic minorities and groups in conflict areas are disenfranchised, such as the Rakhine Buddhists and about 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims.

The NLD, running on a platform of representing all Myanmar people, is expected to win the election in a landslide victory. Their primary support comes from ethnic Burmans who comprise 65% of all voters. Ethnic minority parties are expected to claim additional seats today as the Rohingya crisis—in which over 750,000 Rohingya Muslims fled the country to Bangladesh due to extreme government persecution—has called into question the NLD’s commitment to include minorities in its ranks. If the minority parties do not win seats in today’s election, ethnic tensions between the ethnic Burmans and minorities may result in public demonstrations.

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