04/03/2017, 14.50
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Elections in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi loses the vote of ethnic minorities

Consultations conditioned by a strong disillusionment with Suu Kyi’s Party. Ethnic tensions are growing but not economic opportunities. The NLD has achieved good results in the areas around the commercial capital Yangon and further north in the central regions. The heaviest losses are recorded in the remote areas of the country.

Yangon (AsiaNews) - Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won nine of the 19 seats for the regional and national parliaments up for grabs in the elections held in Myanmar on 1 April.

The Union Election Commission, announced the results of the vote that took place in eight counties and regions involving more than two million voters, less than five per cent of the population of the country.

The election was organized to replace the seats left vacant by politicians who took on ministerial posts, and was the first vote since  the rise to power of the government party last year.

It took place in a climate of disillusionment with the party, due to growing ethnic tensions and failure to improve living standards.

The outcome of the elections will not affect the balance of power within the national parliament, where the NLD enjoys a large majority, but it offers the possibility to measure the popularity of Suu Kyi’s administration in a country where nationwide public opinion polls are not available.

The results announced by Hla Thein, chairman of the Union Election Commission, show that the NLD is still popular in its strongholds. However, they reveal a certain discontent among ethnic minorities of Myanmar, who have long struggled under the dominion of the majority Bamar, to which the Suu Kyi belongs.

The NLD achieved good results in the areas around the commercial capital Yangon and further north in the central regions, winning all available seats. The heaviest defeats, however, recorded in the remote areas of the country, including the regions of ethnic minorities where insurgent violence has continued despite the promises of Suu Kyi to bring peace after decades of struggle.

The most embarrassing defeat occurred in southern Mon state, where the NLD lost one seat in the lower house against its main rival, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), supported by the military. The NLD was defeated also in Rakhine, the western state involved in ethnic and religious conflicts. The seat in the lower chamber was won by the local president of the Arakan National Party, a politician known for his hard line against the Rohingya Muslims. In the northeast, the ethnic Shan party won in different areas whose vote was canceled in 2015 because of disturbances, while the NLD and USDP have obtained a seat each in the regional parliament. 

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