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Kerry congratulates people of Myanmar on historic election

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Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry has congratulated people of Myanmar on the “peaceful and historic” election in the country, but noted that the polls were “far from perfect”.

“The US congratulates the people of Burma (Myanmar) on the November 8 election and commends all of the people and institutions in the country who worked together to hold a peaceful and historic poll,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Millions of people from around the country, many of whom were voting for the first time, seized this opportunity to move one step closer to a democracy that respects the rights of all – a testament to the courage and sacrifice shown by the people of Burma over many decades, Kerry said.

“While these elections were an important step forward, we recognise that they were far from perfect,” he said.

There remain important structural and systemic impediments to the realisation of full democratic and civilian government, including the reservation of a large number of unelected seats for the military; the disfranchisement of groups of people who voted in previous elections, including the Rohingya; and the disqualification of candidates based on arbitrary application of citizenship and residency requirements, Kerry said.

Noting that the US along with the domestic and global observers have closely monitored the electoral process, he said the international community will continue to watch the vote counting process and encourage all parties to help ensure the tabulation is transparent and credible and any complaints are addressed promptly, transparently and appropriately.

The election has the potential to be an important step towards greater peace, prosperity and democracy for the people of Burma, he noted.

“We encourage the political leaders in the country to work together in the spirit of national unity and democratic reform to seek what is best for the country,” he added.

“A peaceful post-election period is crucial for stability and maintaining the confidence of the people in the credibility of the electoral process and the overall political transition. The US remains committed to supporting the people of Burma in their pursuit of democracy, development and national reconciliation going forward,” Kerry added.

Yesterday, millions of people exercised their franchise in a historic general election in which opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party was expected to secure an easy victory.

Nobel Laureate Suu Kyi was barred from the presidency by the army-scripted constitution. A quarter of seats were reserved for the military. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslim minorities were excluded from voting.