Obama calls Myanmar president, endorses election as Suu Kyi eyes majority
US President Barack Obama called Myanmar leader Thein Sein to congratulate him on Thursday on the staging of a historic general election, in which democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi trounced the ruling camp.
The military, which took power in a 1962 coup and has suppressed several pro-democracy uprisings during its rule, gave way to a nominally civilian elected government in 2011 – with strings attached.
The election commission announced more results showing the National League for Democracy party needs just 38 more seats to achieve the 329 seats it needs for a majority in the 664-member, two-house Parliament.
“As the president repeated in his November 6 speech, the government and the army will respect the result of the free and fair election”.
He has urged the country to tackle religious intolerance and promote full democracy. He has also highlighted the plight of the ethnic Rohingya Muslims, tens of thousands of whom were excluded from voting.
There was no immediate confirmation of the call by the US State Department.
The NLD has won 196 seats in the lower house and 95 in the upper house for a total of 291.
It is gifted 25 percent of all parliamentary seats, as well as control of Myanmar’s security apparatus – meaning it will retain huge practical powers as a counterpoint to the NLD’s popular mandate. But while a National League victory virtually assures it of being able to elect the president as well, Suu Kyi remains barred from becoming president by a constitutional provision inserted by the military before it transferred power to a quasi-civilian government in 2011.
The ruling military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) – which won the last, widely criticised election five years ago – has so far gained about 5% of the seats being contested in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Now her party is poised for power it is likely she will put forward a proxy for the role, a move which could set her on collision course with the army.
Suu Kyi has twice been invited to sit down for high-level dialogues, though neither of those gatherings involved the four-party talks that she had pushed for, and instead brought together 48 people and six people, in meetings held in January and April, respectively.
Under Myanmar’s complicated political system President Thein Sein holds his role until March next year, leaving a months-long interregnum that observers fear could allow political problems to incubate.
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Source: Wwnt Radio