Voting in Myanmar, Rohingyas Excluded

Voting in Myanmar, Rohingyas ExcludedVoting in Myanmar, Rohingyas Excluded

Voting unfolded smoothly in Myanmar on Sunday with no reports of violence to puncture a mood of jubilation marking the Southeast Asian nation's first free nationwide election in 25 years, its biggest stride yet in a journey to democracy from dictatorship.

The party of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is expected to win the largest share of votes cast by an electorate of about 30 million, who chose from among thousands of candidates standing for parliament and regional assemblies, Reuters reported.  

But a legacy of military rule means she cannot become president after the election, even if her National League for Democracy wins a landslide. As counting began across the country, early indications from observers were that voting was mostly trouble-free and there were only isolated reports of irregularities.

"From the dozens of people we have spoken to since 6 a.m. today, everybody feels they have been able to vote for whoever they wanted to in security and safety," said Durudee Sirichanya, an international observer from the Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Concern arose about the fairness of the election after activists estimated that up to 4 million people, mostly citizens working abroad, may be unable to cast a ballot.

On the eve of the poll, the NLD said a suspiciously large number of extra voting tickets had been issued in some areas, with one family in Yangon getting 38.

Religious tension, fanned by Buddhist nationalists whose actions have intimidated Myanmar's Muslim minority, marred the election campaign. Among those excluded from voting were around a million Rohingya Muslims who are effectively stateless in their own land.