Myanmar’s ruling party, led by de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, says it has secured enough seats in the parliament to form the next government.
Based on an unofficial count of votes from the general election, Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) said Monday it had won the required parliament seats.
“We thank the people,” said party spokesman Myo Nyunt. “For the people, for the party, this is such an encouraging election result.”
“We won't only win the 322 seats we need to form a government but we expect to break our 2015 record of 390,” he said referring to NLD’s 2015 landslide victory.
Up for grabs in the election are 315 seats in the 425-member lower house and 161 seats in the 217-seat upper house of parliament.
The Election Commission, however, is expected to announce official results later on Monday.
Myanmar’s second biggest party, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), currently controls a quarter of seats in both houses of parliament.
The military ruled Myanmar for nearly 50 years until it began withdrawing from civilian politics in 2011.
Sunday’s vote came amid a resurgence of the coronavirus outbreak in Myanmar, which has recorded more than 60,000 cases and 1,390 deaths since mid-August.
Opposition parties had called for an election delay over the COVID-19 surge, but the governing NLD and the Union Election Commission insisted on forging ahead.
The Election Commission has yet to release data on turnout.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW), however, described the vote as “fundamentally flawed,” since it was canceled in ethnic minority areas, disenfranchising more than 1.5 million people.
The elections commission claimed that the measure was due to security concerns amid fighting between the military and ethnic groups in the region.
The region worst affected by the vote cancellation was Rakhine state, home to Rohingya Muslims, who have been described as the world’s most persecuted community by the United Nations.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmar soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017.
Some 800,000 other Rohingya survived only by fleeing to Bangladesh, where they live in cramped camps.
The Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar and considered illegal immigrants and have no right to vote, despite their ancestral roots dating back centuries.
UN investigators have accused Myanmar’s military of “genocidal intent,” but Suu Kyi has rejected those claims.
The Nobel peace prize laureate defended the military's actions, at the UN's top court in the Hague, late last year.
She claimed that the military's actions were in fact a "clearance operation" in response to militant attacks against police stations in Rakhine state.
A United Nations fact-finding mission had previously found that “the gravest crimes under international law” had been committed in Myanmar and called for genocide trials.