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70 percent voter turnout reported in first five hours of Myanmar polls

April 1, 2012 - Yangon

At least 70 percent voting has taken place in the first five hours of elections in Myanmar. A clearer picture on the way the polls have progressed is expected in the next couple of hours.

According to the BBC, thousands of Burmese have come out to vote in the parliamentary by-elections.

Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is running for political office for the first time, and this has been welcomed by India's envoy to that country Dr. VS Seshadri, who is one three Indian observers monitoring the polls, the other two being the chief election commissioners of Assam and Manipur.

Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) is competing for all 45 seats, in the first vote it has contested since 1990.

Foreign journalists and international observers are being given the widest possible access they have ever had in Burma. The European Union has hinted that it could ease some sanctions if the vote goes smoothly.

Suu Kyi's NLD is one of 17 opposition parties taking part in Sunday's election.

Only a fraction of seats are up for grabs and the military-backed party will still dominate.

Suu Kyi, 66, is standing for a lower house seat in the Kawhmu Township constituency outside Rangoon.On Sunday, she visited polling stations in Kawhmu before heading back to Rangoon.

The 45 bye-election seats are being contested by 176 candidates from 17 parties, with eight independents.

The Lower House has 440 seats (330 elected), the Upper House 224 seats (168 elected) and the regional assemblies 14, with 25 percent of the seats appointed by the military.


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