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Thousands of supporters of the opposition National League for Democracy began a premature celebration outside the party’s headquarters after voting concluded at 4pm today.
Reports of how the election process went in the Rangoon region are still trickling in, while results are still not announced by the Union Election Commission (UEC). The day appears to have gone by without any serious transgression, while minor flaws – such as voters not being able to find their names, long waits, and confusions over polling stations – cropped up throughout the city. The European Union’s election monitor mission’s preliminary review would have to wait until Tuesday, said chief of mission Alexander Lambsdorff.
While NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi was expected to arrive at the headquarters in Bahan Township at around 5pm from her trip to her constituency in Kawhmu, the appearance kept being delayed. Finally, after three hours of waiting in intermittently pouring rain, Tin Oo, the party’s chairman, appeared in the building’s balcony and informed her hopeful followers that she was not coming.
“I would like to deliver a message from ‘The Lady,” he said. “She really wants to thank everyone for standing for the NLD and for her, but there are no results yet. So, please go home and listen to the news at home safely.”
Tin Oo provided no reason for her absence, and added that firebrand parliamentarian Hla Swe, which represents the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, had lost his constituency in Magwe Division’s Gangaw Township.
“One of the USDP higher-levels official, Hla Swe – he has failed in the Gangaw constituency and the NLD has won,” he shouted to raucous cheering.
Officials from the UEC could not confirm this, while Hla Swe could not be reached. The UEC has stated that no official results will be issued until Monday at the earliest.
The party later released a statement urging their supporters to be patient.
“It was so crowded when people waited for the victors but the vote counting is not finished yet,” it read. “So people need to be patient until the results are released, and even if they know who the winner or loser is, they need to accept that results need to wait.”
Despite Suu Kyi not going to her party’s headquarters, supporters did not appear too disappointed as they continued dancing and singing along to catchy NLD songs. Since 3:30 pm, they had stood under the pouring rain intent to catch a glimpse of the Nobel laureate, whose popularity is expected to propel her party to victory.
Voters earlier in the day seemed very confident about an NLD victory, and very few knew the actual candidates within their township that they were voting for. Criticising the USDP, Nyat Maw, 58 – who casted his ballot after three hours of waiting in Thingangyun Township – has a deep mistrust for the government, which he believes is still run by the generals of the military junta.
“They do good for their family but not for the people. Some of them may be millionaires, while there are some people who don’t have enough to eat,” he lamented.
“[The USDP] cannot win. If they have a free and fair election, they won’t win.”