Myanmar's Suu Kyi Heading For Election Win

Myanmar's Suu Kyi Heading For Election Win

The chairman of Myanmar's ruling party has conceded defeat in the country's first free general election in 25 years - with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi apparently set for victory.

The leader of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, Htay Oo, told Reuters: "We lost...we do accept the results without any reservations."

His comments came as Ms Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), announced it had won 44 of the 45 lower house seats and all 12 of the upper house seats in the capital Yangon, a party stronghold.

It also said it won all 38 seats in Ayeyarwaddy state, all but one of the 40 in Bago, and 11 out of 19 lower house seats and all 10 upper house seats in Mon state.

The trend was reportedly expected to continue in the remaining 10 states.

Earlier, NLD spokesman Win Htein said the party had won about 70% of the votes counted, while another spokesman Nyan Win put the number at 90%.

Undeterred by a thunderstorm, hundreds of NLD supporters gathered at the the party's headquarters in Yangon to celebrate the historic vote.

:: Aung San Suu Kyi Serene Amid Election Day Chaos

However, no results have been officially announced and in a speech at the NLD headquarters, Ms Suu Kyi said: "It is still a bit early to congratulate our candidates who will be the winners."

She added: "I want to remind you all that even candidates who didn't win have to accept the winners but it is important not to provoke the candidates who didn't win to make them feel bad."

Ms Suu Kyi - known simply as The Lady by many - is barred from becoming president but has said she would be the power behind the new leader.

But the military is still guaranteed key ministerial positions, can take over the government in certain circumstances and has a grip on Myanmar's economy through holding companies.

The US State Department said it welcomed the general election as a victory for the country's people.

But it cautioned it would watch for the democratic process to move forward before making any adjustments to American sanctions.

A spokesman said the transition from the current government to the future administration "is going to have to be credible" if the US and international community is going to "provide the support to Burma its people need and leaders want". 

Reporting from Yangon, Sky's Asia Correspondent Katie Stallard said: "People started gathering as the results began coming in and they have kept coming.

"There has been torrential rain, a very heavy thunderstorm overhead - nobody here cares. They are dancing to NLD songs, they are applauding campaign videos on the big screen and they are delighted because of what they believe is a great victory."

The election marks a huge step in Myanmar's journey from military dictatorship to democracy and a moment Nobel peace laureate Ms Suu Kyi, who spent years under house arrest, will savour.

The country faces a period of uncertainty as the NLD and other emerging parties negotiate sharing power with the armed forces, which get one-quarter of parliament's seats under the military-drafted constitution.