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Obama congratulates Myanmar on polls

Thursday, Nov 12, 2015,13:45 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Yangon | Myanmar said today President Barack Obama had congratulated the nation on holding free and fair election, as the government and army chief promised a smooth transition of power with Aung San Suu Kyi’s party edging towards victory.

The country has been dominated by the military for half a century through direct junta rule and since 2011 by a quasi-civilian government run by its allies. But Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is on the verge of tipping the balance of power after capturing more than 85 per cent of seats declared so far from Sunday’s election a huge stride in the party’s long democracy struggle.

Obama called President Thein Sein this morning to congratulate him and the government for successfully holding a historic free and fair general election, Myanmar’s Information Minister Ye Htut said on his official Facebook page.

The American leader has thrown his weight behind Myanmar’s reform process and its pro-democracy figurehead Suu Kyi, visiting the country twice since the end of outright military rule in 2011. He has urged the country to tackle religious intolerance and promote full democracy.

He has also highlighted the plight of the ethnic Rohingya Muslims, tens of thousands of whom were excluded from voting. In his call, Obama told his counterpart to be proud of the milestone election and praised the president’s brave reforms, said Ye Htut, a close Thein Sein aide.

There was no immediate confirmation of the call by the US State Department. By this morning, the NLD had swept up 273 seats, 56 short of an outright majority. It is almost certain to smash through that marker, with more official results due to be released today.

In statements released via Facebook, Thein Sein and the powerful army chief Min Aung Hlaing congratulated Suu Kyi’s party, vowed to respect the poll result and work with the new government.
The army chief repeated his position to military top brass, vowing co-operation with the new government during the post-election period, according to a statement posted on his Facebook page today. Suu Kyi yesterday called for national reconciliation talks with the army chief and Thein Sein, stressing the need for a peaceful transition.

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