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BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi Monday on winning her first bid for a seat in parliament, calling the election a victory for democracy.
Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said the German leader had followed the by-elections Sunday “with great interest” and said these underlined the success of the country’s nascent reform process.
“The citizens of the country have given a very impressive mandate for the future political work of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate,” he told a regular news conference, referring to Suu Kyi.
“The opposition and the government should now be encouraged after this by-election to continue on the path of democratisation and reforms that they embarked on together,” he added.
Seibert said the “largely democratic election” marked an “important success on the path of national reconciliation and democratic opening in Myanmar”. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party said it was on course to win all 44 seats it contested in the by-elections, in which a total of 45 seats were at stake — not enough to threaten the army-backed ruling party’s huge majority in parliament.
The results marked a stunning turnaround for Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner, who was locked up by the former junta for most of the past 22 years.
After almost half a century of military rule, the junta a year ago handed power to a new government led by President Thein Sein, one of a clutch of former generals who shed their uniforms to contest a 2010 poll.
The regime has surprised even its critics with a string of reforms such as releasing hundreds of political prisoners.
But remaining political detainees, fighting between government troops and ethnic rebels, and alleged human rights abuses remain major concerns for Western nations which have imposed sanctions on the regime. -- AFP