New path ahead as Myanmar goes to the polls in 80%-turnout

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Myanamr electionsPolls are open in Myanmar today in elections that will test the military’s longstanding grip on power. It’s the first election contested by the opposition since 1990 and after decades of democracy protests against a repressive military elite that took control in 1962 and only initiated a spluttering reform process in the past few years.

Voting began at 6am local time with lines forming outside polling stations set up in Buddhist temples, schools and government buildings.

Polling stations across the country closed at 4pm local time, Union Election Commission deputy director Thant Zin Aung said, adding early indications were that “around 80 per cent of voters turned out today”. First results are not expected until Monday morning.

Myanmar President Thein Sein said that both the military and the government will accept the outcome of the election and that he would work with opposition parties to ensure a stable transition.

The opposition party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to garner the most votes, but it is unclear whether she will win the landslide needed to control the presidency. The president, who forms the cabinet, is chosen by parliament.

Myanmar’s military is guaranteed a quarter of seats in both chambers by a constitution drafted by the junta that handed power to Thein Sein. That means to have a parliamentary majority Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy must win more than two-thirds of all contested seats.

Thein Sein acknowledged that organising an election was a challenge, but stressed the government’s commitment to a credible vote and said more than 10,000 observers will scrutinise the process.

Preparation for the elections has been marred by a series of setbacks with around 4 million people unable to cast their votes. Thousands are missing from voter lists, millions abroad failed to register in time, and most of the 1.1 million persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority are barred from participating.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Polls are open in Myanmar today in elections that will test the military’s longstanding grip on power. It’s the first election contested by the opposition since 1990 and after decades of democracy protests against a repressive military elite that took control in 1962 and only initiated a spluttering reform process in the past few years.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Myanamr electionsPolls are open in Myanmar today in elections that will test the military’s longstanding grip on power. It’s the first election contested by the opposition since 1990 and after decades of democracy protests against a repressive military elite that took control in 1962 and only initiated a spluttering reform process in the past few years.

Voting began at 6am local time with lines forming outside polling stations set up in Buddhist temples, schools and government buildings.

Polling stations across the country closed at 4pm local time, Union Election Commission deputy director Thant Zin Aung said, adding early indications were that “around 80 per cent of voters turned out today”. First results are not expected until Monday morning.

Myanmar President Thein Sein said that both the military and the government will accept the outcome of the election and that he would work with opposition parties to ensure a stable transition.

The opposition party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to garner the most votes, but it is unclear whether she will win the landslide needed to control the presidency. The president, who forms the cabinet, is chosen by parliament.

Myanmar’s military is guaranteed a quarter of seats in both chambers by a constitution drafted by the junta that handed power to Thein Sein. That means to have a parliamentary majority Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy must win more than two-thirds of all contested seats.

Thein Sein acknowledged that organising an election was a challenge, but stressed the government’s commitment to a credible vote and said more than 10,000 observers will scrutinise the process.

Preparation for the elections has been marred by a series of setbacks with around 4 million people unable to cast their votes. Thousands are missing from voter lists, millions abroad failed to register in time, and most of the 1.1 million persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority are barred from participating.

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