Kawhmu, Myanmar — Voting began Sunday in Myanmar elections seen as a test of the government’s budding reforms, with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi standing for a seat in parliament for the first time.
A victory for Suu Kyi would cap a remarkable transformation for the 66-year-old icon of the pro-democracy movement, who spent most of the past 22 years locked up by the generals who ruled the country for decades.
Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year, was not a candidate herself on that occasion because she was under house arrest.
Her party is contesting 44 of the 45 seats at stake in Sunday’s vote — not enough to threaten the ruling party’s majority, but a seat in parliament would give the opposition leader a chance to shape legislation for the first time.
Polling stations opened at 6:00 am (2330 GMT Saturday) and were due to close at 4:00 pm, with more than six million people eligible to vote. The results are expected within about one week, according to election officials.
Observers say the regime wants the pro-democracy leader to win a place in parliament to burnish its reform credentials and smooth the way for an easing of Western sanctions.
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