Voters across Myanmar have voted for an expected return to power for the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains extremely popular at home despite the allegations of an election. Genocide ruined her reputation abroad.
In some cases, people lined up waiting for hours to vote on Sunday during the country’s second general election since the end of the full military regime. Most wear a mask to prevent coronavirus virus. The country has confirmed more than 60,000 cases, the majority of which have been reported since mid-August.
Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to continue to hold power, even as the country struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, a spiraling conflict in Rakhine state and faces charges of genocide in high court most of the United Nations.
Five years since her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a resounding victory, Aung San Suu Kyi has retained strong support from the majority of Bamar, who honor her as a defender of democracy. While the brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims has horrified many overseas, there is little sympathy abroad with their plight and this has not been a factor in the campaigns. vote.
In a Facebook video posted on Thursday, Aung San Suu Kyi urged everyone to go out and vote. “Every voter is writing down their own history, the history of this election and the history of our country,”; she said.
About 38 million people are eligible to vote, of which 5 million are first-time voters.
“I am not afraid of contracting Covid-19,” Khine Zar Chi, 27, told Agence France-Presse, as she voted for the first time in downtown Yangon. “I don’t care if I die for Suu’s mother.”
Others, however, accused Aung San Suu Kyi of not implementing the democratic reforms she promised in 2015, or pledging to to bring peace and reconciliation.
Voting was canceled in some minority-dominated regions, ostensibly out of security concerns over a war between the military and armed groups that are calling for greater autonomy. It is feared that the estimated decision to deprive about 1.5 million people would entail resentment and cause conflict.
Analysts pointed out that voting was stopped even in areas where fighting was restricted.
Rohingya Muslims, who have long been denied citizenship, still have no right to vote. Most were trapped in shabby camps in Bangladesh, where they fled a military crackdown in 2017. Hundreds of thousands are still detained in camps and villages inside Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where Human Rights Watch has reported abuses it considers racist crimes against humanity and persecution.
On Friday, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, raised concerns about the “legal limbo” facing the Rohingya in Myanmar and their inability to vote. United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said: “It is important that everyone has a say and can participate in these elections in a very… comprehensive way.
The government-appointed electoral commission has been criticized not only for voter exclusion, but also for its lack of transparency, discrimination against Muslim candidates, and logistical issues.
Last week, in a rare interview, commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing accused the civilian government of “unacceptable mistakes” during election preparations and described the military as “Guardian” of the country. He said he would accept the results of the vote.
A quarter of the seats in parliament are reserved for the military, which has been in power in an uneasy alliance with the NLD for the past five years. It remains extremely powerful and has blocked proposals for constitutional changes and thus diminished its influence.
About 90 parties are competing with the NLD, although advocacy has been hindered in some areas due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is believed that this will primarily be detrimental to smaller, ethnic-based parties that do not have access to the state media.
It was feared that the pandemic might also prevent people from reaching the polling stations, but on Sunday morning analysts reported a strong turnout of voters.
Khin Zaw Win, director of the Tampadipa Institute in Yangon, waited for two hours to vote in downtown Yangon. “Myanmar voters don’t need to be overreacting,” he said, adding that historically, there has been long-standing recognition of the importance of elections. “Add to that half a century of denial of democracy under the military, and people know that voting is the best chance they have,” he said.
But he added that the politicians have persisted in disappointing the public. “There have been waves of reform but not enough, and not in important areas such as land ownership, citizenship and religious freedom. And corruption is always there, hanging around ”.