Myanmar citizens voted to choose their leaders for the next five years in an election on Sunday.
The polls mark the second general election for the National League for Democracy, led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, under the current constitution. The NLD won a landslide last time in 2015, before taking the reins of government the following year.
Now, the party hopes to maintain a two-thirds majority, with roughly 500 seats up for grabs across the lower and upper houses of parliament. Reaching that threshold is crucial because the constitution allows the military to appoint the remaining 25% of the seats in both chambers. In a joint session after the lawmakers are elected — the vote counting could take days — the two houses will select the president.
More than 37 million people are registered to vote, but fears about COVID-19 may dampen turnout, with Myanmar seeing a average of 1,100 new daily coronavirus cases compared to a handful in early August.
Casting his vote in the capital Naypyitaw, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing said he backed the party that “can work hand in hand” with the military “to create a better future”.
“I have to accept the result that comes from the people’s wishes,” he said, when asked if the military would respect the outcome.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday urged “peaceful, orderly and credible elections” that could enable hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled to neighbouring Bangladesh during a 2017 Army crackdown to return ”in safety and dignity”.