Myanmar ruling party concedes poll defeat as Suu Kyi heads for landslide

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Is Myanmar Finally Becoming a Democracy?


Myanmar's ruling party conceded defeat in the country's general election on Monday, as the opposition led by democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi appeared on course for a landslide victory that would ensure it can form the next government.

"We lost," Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) acting chairman Htay Oo told Reuters in an interview a day after the Southeast Asian country's first free nationwide election in a quarter of a century.

The election commission later began announcing constituency-by-constituency results from Sunday's poll. All of the first 12 announced were won by Suu Kyi's National League of Democracy (NLD).

The NLD said its own tally of results from polling stations around the country showed it on track to win more than 70 percent of the seats being contested in parliament, more than the two-thirds it needs to form Myanmar's first democratically elected government since the early 1960s.

"They must accept the results, even though they don't want to," NLD spokesman Win Htein told Reuters, adding that in the highly populated central region the Nobel peace laureate's party looked set to win more than 90 percent of seats.

Earlier a smiling Suu Kyi appeared on the balcony of the NLD's headquarters in Yangon and in a brief address urged supporters to be patient and wait for the official results.

See photos of Kyi and the election:

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Myanmar ruling party concedes poll defeat as Suu Kyi heads for landslide
Leader of Myanmar's National League for Democracy party, Aung San Suu Kyi, delivers a speech with party patron Tin Oo from a balcony of her party's headquarters in Yangon, Myanmar, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. Suu Kyi on Monday hinted that her party will win the country's historic elections, and urged supporters not to provoke their losing rivals. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Novice Buddhist nuns line up after walking the streets to collect alms in central Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. Myanmar was trapped in a post-election limbo Tuesday with official results barely trickling in, although opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party claimed a victory massive enough to give it the presidency and loosen the military's grip on the country. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
People gather to buy merchandise with pictures of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a shop run by her National League of Democracy party in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. Her party, which appears headed for a massive election victory, accused the government election panel Tuesday of intentionally delaying results, saying it may be trying "to play a trick." (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Supporters of Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi claps as Suu Kyi delivers a speech in Yangon, Myanmar, Monday, Nov. 9, 2015. Suu Kyi on Monday hinted at a victory by her party in the country's historic elections, and urged supporters not to provoke their losing rivals who are backed by the military.(AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Supporters of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyiâs National League for Democracy party cheer as they watch the result of general election on an LED screen outside the partyâs headquarters Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015 in Yangon, Myanmar. Millions of citizens voted Sunday in Myanmar's historic general election that will test whether the military's long-standing grip on power can be loosened, with opposition leader Suu Kyi's party expected to secure an easy victory. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
Supporters of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyiâs National League for Democracy party holding banner cheer as they watch the result of general election on an LED screen outside the partyâs headquarters Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar voted Sunday in historic elections that will test whether popular mandate can loosen the military's longstanding grip on power, even if opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party secures a widely-expected victory. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
Supporters of Myanmar's National League for Democracy party cheer as they watch early voting results outside the NLD headquarters in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Myanmar voted Sunday in historic elections that will test whether popular mandate will help loosen the militaryâs longstanding hold on power even if opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyiâs party secures a widely-expected victory. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
In this Nov. 8, 2015 file photo, people line outside a polling station in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar voted Sunday in historic elections that will test whether popular mandate will help loosen the militaryâs longstanding hold on power even if opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyiâs party secures a widely-expected victory. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)
A voter casts a ballot in advance for the upcoming Nov. 8 general election at a township Election Commission Office in Mandalay, Myanmar, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. On Sunday Myanmar will hold what is being viewed as the country's best chance for a free and credible election in a quarter of a century.(AP Photo/Hkun Lat)
Myanmar's National League for Democracy party leader Aung San Suu Kyi visits a polling station on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Myanmar voted Sunday in historic elections that will test whether popular mandate will help loosen the militaryâs longstanding hold on power even if opposition leader Suu Kyiâs party secures a widely-expected victory. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Voters line up to cast their ballots at a polling station during the general elections Sunday, Nov 8, 2015, in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar voted Sunday in historic elections that will test whether popular mandate can loosen the military's longstanding grip on power, even if opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party secures a widely-expected victory. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
Men try to catch a glimpse of vote counting outside of a polling station in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. With tremendous excitement and hope, millions of citizens voted Sunday in Myanmar's historic general election that will test whether the military's long-standing grip on power can be loosened, with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party expected to secure an easy victory. (AP Photo/Amanda Mustard)
Myanmar's President Thein Sein casts his vote in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Myanmar voted Sunday in historic elections that will test whether popular mandate will help loosen the military's longstanding hold on power even if opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party secures a widely-expected victory. (AP Photo/Aung Shine Oo)
Votes are counted in an unfinished building being used as a polling station in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. With tremendous excitement and hope, millions of citizens voted Sunday in Myanmar's historic general election that will test whether the military's long-standing grip on power can be loosened, with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party expected to secure an easy victory. (AP Photo/Amanda Mustard)
Votes are counted in an unfinished building being used as a polling station in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. With tremendous excitement and hope, millions of citizens voted Sunday in Myanmar's historic general election that will test whether the military's long-standing grip on power can be loosened, with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party expected to secure an easy victory. (AP Photo/Amanda Mustard)
Leader of Myanmar's National League for Democracy party, Aung San Suu Kyi, is escorted through a crowd as she visits a polling station on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Myanmar voted Sunday in historic elections that will test whether popular mandate will help loosen the militaryâs longstanding hold on power even if opposition leader Suu Kyiâs party secures a widely-expected victory. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
A woman displays her inked finger as she poses for a photograph after voting in the village of Dala, Myanmar, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Myanmar voted Sunday in historic elections that will test whether popular mandate will help loosen the militaryâs longstanding hold on power even if opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyiâs party secures a widely-expected victory. (AP Photo/Amanda Mustard)
Police officers sit outside a polling station with an elderly man in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. Myanmar voted Sunday in historic elections that will test whether popular mandate will help loosen the militaryâs longstanding hold on power even if opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyiâs party secures a widely-expected victory. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)
Officials of Union Election Commission sort ballots at a polling station in Mandalay, Myanmar, Sunday Nov. 8, 2015. Myanmar voted Sunday in historic elections that will test whether popular mandate will help loosen the militaryâs longstanding hold on power even if opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyiâs party secures a widely-expected victory. (AP Photo/Hkun Lat)
People try to catch a glimpse of vote counting outside of a polling station in Yangon, Myanmar, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015. With tremendous excitement and hope, millions of citizens voted Sunday in Myanmar's historic general election that will test whether the military's long-standing grip on power can be loosened, with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party expected to secure an easy victory. (AP Photo/Amanda Mustard)
In this Nov. 5, 2015 file photo, supporters of Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party decorate a back of a truck for a campaign rally to conclude their campaign in Yangon, Myanmar. On Sunday Myanmar will hold what is being viewed as the country's best chance for a free and credible election in a quarter of a century. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe, File)
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DEMOCRATIC JOURNEY

The election was a landmark in the country's unsteady journey to democracy from the military dictatorship that made it a pariah state for so long. It is also a moment that Suu Kyi will relish after spending years under house arrest.

Although the election appears to have dealt a decisive defeat to the USDP, a period of uncertainty still looms over the country because it is not clear how Suu Kyi will share power with the still-dominant military.

The military-drafted constitution guarantees one-quarter of parliament's seats to unelected members of the armed forces.

Even if the NLD gets the majority it needs, Suu Kyi is barred from taking the presidency herself under the constitution written by the junta to preserve its power. Suu Kyi has said she would be the power behind the new president regardless of a charter she has derided as "very silly".

The military will, however, remain a dominant force. It is guaranteed key ministerial positions, the constitution gives it the right to take over government under certain circumstances, and it also has a grip on the economy through holding companies.

Incomplete vote counts showed some of the most powerful politicians of the USDP trailing in their bids for parliamentary seats, indicating a heavy loss for the party created by the former junta and led by retired military officers.

Among the losers was USDP chief Htay Oo, who told Reuters from the rural delta heartlands that are a bastion of support for his party he was "surprised" by his own defeat.

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