NAYPYIDAW — Candidates for the National League for Democracy (NLD) have claimed victory in seven of eight Lower House constituencies in Naypyidaw, as well as the capital’s two Upper House seats.
With election results being announced in batches by the Union Election Commission this week, the NLD has established a commanding lead over the rival Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), with the former winning 295 seats nationwide to date, while the latter has tallied just 26 victories, out of a total 333 seats announced so far.
Despite the UEC holding several press conferences at its Naypyidaw headquarters to announce the outcomes of races as far-flung and remote as Karenni, Kachin and Chin states, the polling body has not yet offered up official calls on the 10 races at its doorstep.
That hasn’t stopped opposition NLD candidates from trumpeting success in the sprawling, purpose-built jurisdiction, where large populations of civil servants and resident military battalions had led some to peg the territory a USDP stronghold. The Irrawaddy this week visited the election subcommissions of Naypyidaw’s eight townships and two districts to confirm the NLD’s claim to a near-sweep of the capital.
The NLD’s Upper House candidates, Maung Maung Swe for Naypyidaw’s Oketara District, and Kyaw Myint Oo, for Detkhina District (constituencies officially known as Mandalay Nos. 9 and 10, respectively), withstood all challengers, including incumbent USDP lawmakers Khin Maung Htay and Hmat Gyi.
The only USDP candidate to have fended off the opposition party blitz appears to have been Hla Htay Win, the former chief of staff of the Burma Army, Navy and Air Force, who bested the NLD’s Khin Myo Thwin in the military stronghold of Zayathiri Township.
The NLD’s Yi Mon edged out USDP heavyweight Wai Lwin, Burma’s former defense minister, in a Lower House race for Naypyidaw’s Pobbathiri Township, with the slender margin of 176 votes setting the two contestants apart.
Yi Mon said the close vote count and accusations by Wai Lwin of election day misconduct had led the township’s electoral subcommission to tell the NLD candidate on Tuesday morning that there would be a recount. The subcommission later reversed course, however, and announced the result as it originally stood, after the NLD objected to a recount.
The campaign manager of the former defense minister told The Irrawaddy that Wai Lwin had not yet decided whether the candidate would seek to appeal the result further.
Thant Zin Tun, the NLD’s Lower House candidate for Dekkhinathiri Township, said his victory came “despite the pre-election day challenges,” referring to allegations of vote-buying leveled against his main rival Myint Hlaing, minister for agriculture and irrigation.
The NLD candidate, who is already looking past his electoral bout with the cabinet minister, said he “would work best to fulfill my constituents’ needs” when he takes office early next year.
His election day was not without its own share of drama, with Thant Zin Tun telling The Irrawaddy that he was on the receiving end of a police complaint for allegedly interfering with a polling agent’s work after he sought to prevent the agent from assisting ordinary voters with stamping their ballot.
“As soon as I heard about it, I went there and told the representative to stop that misconduct. But the representative continued doing it, so I took picture as evidence,” he said, adding that he would be ready with a countersuit if legal action is brought against him.