Army-backed party claims victory in Myanmar vote

The Myanmar military`s political proxy has claimed victory in the country`s first polls in 20 years.

Yangon: The Myanmar military`s political
proxy claimed victory Tuesday in the country`s widely criticised first election in 20 years, saying it had won about 80 per
cent of the seats.

The poll has been denounced by Western governments as
anything but free and fair and pro-democracy parties who
participated have complained of intimidation and "cheating" at
polling booths.

"We have won about 80 percent of the seats. We are
glad," said a senior member of the Union Solidarity and
Development Party (USDP), who did not want to be named.

The vote appeared to have gone largely according to
the junta`s plans but fighting erupted between government
troops and ethnic rebels yesterday, triggering an exodus of
about 20,000 people to neighbouring Thailand.

At least three civilians were killed when heavy
weapons fire hit the town of Myawaddy in Karen State, an
official in Myanmar said. There was no information on any
troop casualties on either side.

There was no official announcement from the junta or
election officials on the vote results, but the USDP had been
widely expected to sweep the poll given the severe financial,
campaigning and other hurdles facing opposition parties.

The USDP was formed by Prime Minister Thein Sein and
other former top military officials who shed their uniforms to
contest Sunday`s election.

The USDP member said turnout was more than 70 per
cent, despite muted activity seen at many polling stations on
election day.

There were also widespread accusations of
irregularities on election day.

"It`s very different from our expectation because of
foul play," said Than Nyein, chairman of the National
Democratic Force, created by former members of Suu Kyi`s
party, which boycotted the vote and was disbanded.
"We have our evidence. Some candidates complained...
because there was vote cheating," he told AFP yesterday.

Thu Wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, also said
the results would be worse than expected, "not only because of
the advance votes, but also because we didn`t have
representatives at every polling station".
With 25 per cent of the seats in parliament reserved
for military appointees whatever the outcome, the two main
pro-junta parties needed to win just another 26 per cent from
the elected seats to secure a majority.