NLD urges careful optimism about early results in Mandalay

MANDALAY — National League for Democracy officials have urged supporters to be carefully optimistic about early results that appear to show the party winning all seats in Mandalay Region.

Late on Sunday evening, hundreds of NLD supporters partied outside the party’s headquarters, in front of a screen showing unofficial results from around the region, which showed the party winning all seats available.

“It is important for the NLD to win, not only for me, but for every citizen in the country,” said supporter U Soe Hlaing. “If we can win today, the country will change. If we do not win today, the future will remain the same.”

U Shwe Hla, chairman of NLD’s Mandalay Region office, said that while the early results were encouraging for the party, questions still remained about how many seats the party had won.

“These are not the official results, but the closest we can establish for now. We cannot say for sure if we will win in [Mandalay] Region, but according to what we know at the moment, we are winning by a significant margin. As you can see,” he said, pointing to the supporters celebrating outside his office, “there are so many people here who support the NLD.”

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With official results not expected for weeks, some observers have raised concerns that the time could be used for the government to manipulate the results.

“That is our greatest concern, but of course we hope it will not happen,” said U Shwe Hla.

U Sai Kyaw Zaw, an NLD candidate for a Shan State ethnic seat, said, based on the results he had seen, he was confident he would win his seat, “as long as there is no cheating.”

“We cannot say for sure if it will happen. Look at 1990, that was one example [when the NLD won a landslide victory, but the ruling government refused to recognise the result], so we cannot say for sure what will happen.”

Voters rose before dawn in Myanmar’s Royal City to vote. The atmosphere was calm but excited early morning as people emerged from polling stations proudly showing their little finger covered in purple ink – dubbed the “purple pinkie”.

The day was largely peaceful except for one incident at a polling station in Maha Aung Mye Township in the city.

U Thein Oo, chairman of the NLD office in Maha Aung Mye, said that trucks carrying around 100 people arrived at polling station number five in the township to vote, even though they were not residents in the area.

“They had white cards, meaning they had the right to vote, but actually they are not living in the area. They are living at the Myint Nge tollgate [outside the city]. I asked them and they said somebody had brought them from the toll gate,” he said.

“That toll gate is under the control of the Mandalay Mayor [USDP regional parliament candidate for Maha Aung Mye, U Aung Moung], so I have already asked the question of who is responsible.”

Frontier was unable to verify the ownership of Myint Nge tollgate.

U Thein Oo said an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

A day before the vote, many Mandalay residents woke to find flyers on their doorsteps urging them not to vote for the NLD as they are a party that supports “kalars” [a derogatory term for people of Indian descent].

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