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Myanmar Votes in By-Elections
Myanmar Votes in By-Elections

Myanmar Votes in By-Elections

Myanmar Votes in By-Elections

Myanmar went to the polls on Saturday for the first time since Aung San Suu Kyi’s party swept to power a year ago, in an early indication of views on her leadership amid increasing fighting with armed ethnic groups and slower economic growth.
The by-elections will fill 19 vacant seats in the national and regional parliaments at a time when Suu Kyi is struggling to match the sky-high expectations that swept her National League for Democracy to victory, Reuters reported.
In a televised address earlier this week, Suu Kyi acknowledged the public’s frustration with the slow pace of reforms and development.
But she also reiterated her top priority of ending the ethnic conflicts that have kept Myanmar in a state of near-perpetual civil war.
While the outcome of the by-elections will not affect the balance of power within the parliament where NLD enjoys a large majority, it offers a chance to gauge the popularity of the administration in a country where nationwide public polls are not available.
Major rebel armies engaged in clashes with the military in areas, including the Shan state, have refused to participate in Suu Kyi’s peace process.
Several conflicts have reignited since Suu Kyi took office, displacing an estimated 160,000 more people, according to the United Nations. Over two million voters, less than 5% of the country’s population, can vote in the by-elections where seats in eight states and regions across the country are up for grabs.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi is also facing international criticism for her government’s handling of a crisis in the Muslim-majority Rakhine region, where soldiers have blocked access for aid workers and are accused of raping and killing civilians.
The by-elections will fill seats largely vacated by incumbents who joined the government in ministerial posts. Some seats that were excluded from previous elections due to fighting with ethnic armed groups are also up for grabs.

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