TODAY -

Myanmar votes today, Suu Kyi poised for win
Source: The Sangai Express

Yangon, March 31 2012: Myanmar was making final preparations on Saturday for polls seen as a test of the military-dominated regime's reforms, in which opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is standing for the first time.

Many polling stations in the 45 constituencies spread across the country were already set up for the Sunday vote, which the Nobel laureate is contesting despite criticising it as not "genuinely free and fair" .

Suu Kyi was set to make her way later today to her rural constituency of Kawhmu, about two hours drive from Yangon.

The participation of "The Lady", as she is known, and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party has fuelled an explosion in the number of T-shirt vendors in the main commercial city of Yangon, with an every-increasing variety of styles, all of which would have been taboo just a year ago.

"We must win," states the latest design, a red shirt with Suu Kyi's face printed in black.

A carnival atmosphere pervaded in Mingalar Taung Nyunt township, one of six constituencies up for grabs in Yangon, on the last day of campaigning yesterday.

Large flatbed trucks crammed with people, from young children to the elderly, travelled through the streets blaring music, including the popular campaign song about Suu Kyi "Our mom is back" .

There was obvious glee at being able to display political allegiance freely.

Many supporters, wearing red NLD bandanas and T-shirts, had plastered their faces with stickers of the party logo a red background with a yellow fighting peacock and a white star.

"We have done a lot of preparation for April 1 .

We have polling station representatives and people to provide information, because we want to know what's going on.

The result will match people's desires.

The NLD must win," local NLD candidate Phyu Phyu Thin told AFP.

NLD supporters Saturday erected a giant LED screen outside the party headquarters in Yangon to broadcast the results as they come in.

In the city's Mayangone constituency, officials set out tables and labelled ballot boxes at a polling station in a high school.

"Authorities sent us a blueprint of how to prepare the polling station and we have laid it out exactly as they instructed," said school teacher Myint Ngwe, who was in charge of the preparations.

Suu Kyi on Friday renewed complaints of irregularities in the run up to the by-elections, including vandalism of party posters and "intimidation" .


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