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Questions Remain in Myanmar Election

From left, European Union Election Observation Mission members press officer Eberhard Laue, Myanmar chief Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, deputy chief observer Mark Stevens, and head of delegation Ana Gomes speak to reporters in Yangon, Myanmar, Nov. 10, 2015.
Questions Remain in Myanmar Election
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Vote counting continues in Myanmar, but international observers say the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) is heading for a landslide win.

Questions remain how much authority the newly elected leaders will be given.

Results released so far show the NLD has won 126 seats. The Union Solidarity Development Party that is backed by the military has won only eight seats. It is the first free election in 25 years.

“The fact that that losing USDP candidates are accepting defeat is encouraging for process credibility,” said Alexander Lambsdorff, head of the European Union’s election observation mission at a press conference Tuesday.

He said the election “process went better than many people expected beforehand.”

More than 30 million people cast ballots in Sunday’s election.

Still, Lambsdorff said the vote cannot be considered truly democratic because 25 percent of the seats were not contested. Under Myanmar’s constitution, 25 percent of the seats are set aside for the military.

He also voiced concern that Rohingya Muslims were largely absent from voting rolls and candidate lists. He said the lack of Muslim participation reflects their disenfranchisement.

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, said she would not call the election “free and fair.” Robinson represented the Carter Center as an election observer. The Carter Center, founded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, monitors elections across the globe.

“And I wouldn’t tend to use that expression anyway, if you’ve got 25 percent of both houses (of parliament) to the military, problems with the constitution, people excluded because they’re Muslim or the Rohingya,” Robinson told the Voice of America.

Steve Herman reported on this story for Bruce Alpert adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

observers n. person who sees and notices someone or something

transition n. change from one state or condition to another

encouraging adj. causing a hopeful feeling

credibilityn. the quality of being believed or accepted as true, real, or honest

contested v. an event in which people try to win by doing something better than others

disenfranchisement n. a person or group of people do not have the right to vote