Counting of votes cast in Myanmar’s weekend election began late Sunday (Nov. 7) amid international criticism on the polls’ fairness. The ruling junta “missed an opportunity to begin genuine transition toward democratic governance and national reconciliation,” U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton has observed. Meanwhile, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre noted that the elections “were neither free nor fair, which is very regrettable.”
The election, the country’s first in 20 years, had a low turnout and was marred by violence. The Guardian says many voters heeded calls to boycott the polls.
Ahead of the elections, various countries and international organizations have pressured Myanmar’s military government to release Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The party was banned from participating in the polls and was behind the call for a boycott. Aung San Suu Kyi won the country’s last elections in 1990, which had a turnout of 80 percent, the Guardian says.