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Aung San Suu Kyi’s party loses five seats in Myanmar by-election

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is projected to have won only seven out of 13 seats in a by election held in Myanmar this week.

The NLD won the majority of seats in the central heartland which is predominately ethnic Bamar Buddhists but in the northern state of Kachin, they finished third in an Upper House race which it had won in 2015.

Results in the state capital Myithyina showed a victory for the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party, whilst the ethnic Kachin parties have unified to support the Kachin Development Party (KDP) which finished second. However, there is controversy over the vote as a number advance votes were accepted by election authorities despite being posted past the deadline.

The People’s Alliance for Credible Elections have raised concerns and said that this was not accepted elsewhere.

These elections are seen as a trial for the general elections held in 2020. 

Suu Kyi was elected as the democratic leader in 2015, gaining a majority in both houses and upending decades of military rule. Under the current constitution however, the military automatically controls a quarter of the seats in parliament. The country continues to suffer with an intense ethnic conflict which Suu Kyi has pledged to end but peace talks have failed to deliver.

The results reflect the NLD’s wavering opinion, especially amongst the many different ethnic groups on the country, as conflict rages. In particular hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been displaced, with a military offensive against them being termed a genocide by many prominent scholars.

In a statement Myo Nyunt a spokesman for the NLD stated that: 

“Ethnic people are not satisfied with our performance on the peace process […] This result is a lesson for us. We will come up with a strategy for each constituency for the coming election.”