NAY PYI TAW – The National League for Democracy drew a crowd of an estimated 20,000 Wednesday as it campaigned for votes in Pyinmana, near the capital where the incumbent military-run Union Solidarity and Development Party still rules.
The NLD march and car convoy swelled from 500 to 20,000 followers within hours as its candidate U Than Soe Aung campaigned for votes in Pyinmana, about 10 kilometers outside Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Taw, witnesses said.
The NLD, led by Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, is widely slated to win the November 8 polls, even in bastions of USDP power such as Nay Pyi Taw, which was turned into the country’s capital by the former ruling junta in 2005, replacing Yangon.
NLD candidates won four of the seats up for grabs in Nay Pyi Taw in the 2012 by-election, despite reports of heavy lobbying by USDP candidates to persuade civil servants to vote for the government party which came to power in the 2010 general election.
That election was boycotted by the NLD in a show of solidarity for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi who was under house arrest at the time.
The opposition party’s first electoral victory was in the 1990 polls, which it won by a landslide, but was thereafter blocked from assuming power by the ruling junta.
Myanmar was under military rule from 1962 to 2010, after which the nominally civilian government of President U Thein Sein came to power. U Thein Sein’s reforms introduced in 2011 eventually led to the inclusion of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD into the political process.
No matter who wins the November 8 polls, the military will keep control over parliament through a constitutional clause that allows the institution to hold 25 percent of all parliamentary seats, giving them veto power over all new legislation.