Army Pressed to Yield Power in Myanmar

From Reuters

Opposition leaders, claiming a triumph in last Sunday's national vote, said Thursday that widespread electoral support from civil servants and soldiers is adding pressure on the military to cede control after 28 years in power in Myanmar, formerly Burma.

The acting leader of the National League for Democracy said the party's victory has cornered the country's army rulers and thrown additional weight behind the league's calls for a rapid handing over of control to civilians.

"They cannot deny our position because the voting is very solid," said Chit Khaing, acting general secretary of the National League for Democracy.

The ruling military council, formed after a pro-democracy uprising was crushed in September, 1988, has alienated most sectors of Myanmar's 40 million population, he said.

"The civil servants are known to have voted overwhelmingly for the NLD while a large part of the army voted for us," Chit Khaing told reporters.

NLD leaders have said they will demand the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, 44, the party's charismatic secretary general, who has been under house arrest since last July, and party Chairman Tin Oo, serving a three-year sentence for anti-state activity.

The leading opposition party trounced 92 other parties Sunday in this secretive country's first free elections in 30 years.

Unofficial results collected so far give the NLD almost 80% of the vote in each constituency.

The army has promised to hand over power after a constitution is drawn up by the new parliament.

Impoverished by decades of misrule and economic stagnation, this resource-rich nation has been further weakened by the army's strict political control and economic incompetence, diplomats said.

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