Yangon: Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party was on the verge of a formal victory on Thursday, as incoming results from Myanmar's historic polls pointed to a landslide win for the pro-democracy crusader and a resounding rejection of military rule.
Attention was riveted today to what has been called "the magic number" for Suu Kyi's party. The election commission announced more results, showing the National League for Democracy party needs just three more seats to acquire the 329 seats it needs for a majority in the 664-member, two-house Parliament.
Elections were not held in seven constituencies, meaning a simple majority can be reached at 329. The NLD has won 243 seats in the lower house and 83 in the upper house for a total of 326. More results were to be announced in the afternoon.
The military establishment has not formally conceded defeat but it has acknowledged the massive success of Suu Kyi's party, and ensured that it will respect the final outcome of election results.
Suu Kyi's party said yesterday it received a message from Information Minister Ye Htut on behalf of President Thein Sein congratulating it for leading the race for parliamentary seats in the November 8 election.
Ye Htut said the government will pursue a peaceful transfer of power "in accordance with the legislated timeline." He was not immediately available for comment.
Thein Sein is a former general who has led the military-backed government for the past five years.
The message helps ease lingering concerns that the military, which has a large influence over the ruling party, may deny the NLD power, as it did after elections in 1990.
It also means that Myanmar is likely to soon have its first government in decades that isn't under the military's sway. But while an NLD victory virtually assures it of being able to elect the president as well, Suu Kyi remains barred from becoming president by a constitutional provision inserted by the military before it transferred power to a quasi-civilian government in 2011.
Suu Kyi has declared, however, that she will become the country's de facto leader, acting "above the president" if her party forms the next government.
She described that plan further in an interview Tuesday with Singapore's Channel News Asia television.
"I make all the decisions because I'm the leader of the winning party. And the president will be one whom we will choose just in order to meet the requirements of the constitution," she said.
"He (the president) will have to understand this perfectly well that he will have no authority. That he will act in accordance with the positions of the party."