In what is being widely hailed as an historic day for democratic progress in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party won a landslide victory in by-elections in the military-ruled south east Asian country.
The Nobel Laureate, who has spent the better part of the past three decades under house arrest, led her National League for Democracy to victory in 40 of the 45 seats up for grabs in Sunday’s election, according to Burma’s Union Electoral Commission, Reuters reports. Earlier, Suu Kyi’s party had declared victory in 44 of the ridings.
Thousands of people gathered to celebrate the election results outside the NLD headquarters in Rangoon, cheering and dancing after it was announced that Suu Kyi had won in her riding. “It is natural that the NLD members and their supporters are joyous at this point,” said Suu Kyi in a statement, quoted by the BBC. “However, it is necessary to avoid manners and actions that will make the other parties and members upset. It is very important that NLD members take special care that the success of the people is a dignified one.”
Sunday’s vote was the first after a series of recent democratic reforms in the country—most political prisoners have been freed, media restrictions have been loosened and opposition parties have been allowed to campaign in these election.
But the NLD is still a far shot from power. Suu Kyi’s party will be nothing more than an opposition bloc in parliament; the 664-seat chamber will remain dominated by a government replete with former generals and officials with military ties. There have also been reported “irregularities” at some polling stations in the country, the Globe and Mail reports.
Still, the country could see an easing of long-standing economic sanctions imposed by Canada, the U.S. and other Western countries.