Millions vote in historic election
PEOPLE across Myanmar went to the polls yesterday to cast their votes in the country’s historic general election, which has been billed the most free and fair in decades. Voter turnout was estimated at 70 percent, with throngs of people turning up to polling stations in the early hours of Sunday morning before polling stations opened at 6 am.
Ninety-one political parties fielded candidates for the general election, which included ethnic minority parties as well as the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).
President U Thein Sein and his wife Daw Khin Khin Win cast their votes at a polling station in Zabuthiri Township, with foreign diplomats and local and foreign observers present. The township’s 59,635 eligible voters cast their ballots at 33 polling stations.
Local and foreign election observers, along with diplomats and journalists, were present to observe voting at polling stations across the country.
In Ottarathiri District in the Nay Pyi Taw council area, which includes the president’s constituency, Union Election Commission Chairman U Tin Aye observed the voting process after casting his vote.
Polling stations closed at 4pm nationwide, with returning officers then uncovering ballot boxes to begin recording results before respective representatives. The counting of votes of began shortly after 4pm, with live coverage broadcasts on local television stations.
In Nay Pyi Taw’s Dakkhinathiri district, 273 polling stations were provided for 400,796 voters. The district’s electoral officers urged returning officers to ensure that all voters within the precincts of the polls at the close of voting did not lose their chance to vote. Some polling stations were instructed to remain open after 4pm to ensure that voters who arrived before 4pm but were still waiting in line were not denied the opportunity to vote.
There were 340 polling stations for the 351,816 voters in the capital city’s townships of Tatkon, Zeyathiri, Pobbathiri and Ottarathiri.
Vice President Dr Sai Mauk Kham and his wife Daw Nan Shwe Hmon cast their votes at a polling station in Lashio township, Shan State. Vice President U Nyan Tun and his wife cast advance votes in Zeyatheikdi ward election sub-commission office in Zabuthiri Township on 29 October.
Speaker of Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) Thura U Shwe Mann and his wife cast votes in Kanyutkwin, Pyu Township, while the Speaker of Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House) U Khin Aung Myint cast their votes at a polling station in Pyidawtha Ward, Pyawbwe Township.
Foreign and local media groups were granted access to polling stations across the country, while social media saw an unprecendented level of activity during the hours leading up to election and during the post-vote period. –Myanmar News Agency