Voting begins in Myanmar, Suu Kyi likely to win parliamentary seat


Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (C) addresses supporters after she reached the constituency where she stands as a candidate in the April 1 parliamentary by-elections in Kawhmu, outside Yangon on March 31, 2012.


Soe Than WIN

Voters in Myanmar were casting their ballots Sunday in an historic election in which opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is likely to win a seat in parliament, according to the Associated Press.

If elected, it will be the first time the the democracy activist has held public office in Myanmar, also known as Burma, since launching her long struggle against the military-dominated government.

The by-election, to fill a few dozen vacant seats, follows months of reform by the government and renewed ties with the United States.

However, Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party will have little to no power in parliament even if they win all the seats they are contesting, because most of the 664-seats remain dominated or influenced by the military, CBS News wrote.

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The 66-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who spent 15 years under house arrest, is running for a seat in the district of Wah Thin Kha, a poor village south of Yangon.

Suu Kyi slept overnight in the village of 3,000 farmers, where, according to the AP,  supporters hooked up a generator to provide lights in the home she stayed in. The village has no electricity, running water or paved roads.

"I believe she can lead the country to democracy,” Hlya Myint, who sells firewood, told Bloomberg. “If there is democracy, the country will become rich. If the country becomes rich, I won’t be so poor.”

On Friday, Suu Kyi said the elections would be neither free nor fair due to widespread irregularities but vowed to continue her candidacy for the sake of the country.

She said members of her NLD party faced intimidation and the government was involved in some of the irregularities that went "beyond what is acceptable for democratic elections."