Aung San Suu Kyi

April 2, 2012 by staff 

Aung San Suu Kyi, Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday hailed a “new era” for Myanmar and called for political unity after her party swept to victory in elections seen as a test of budding reforms. The Nobel peace laureate won her first seat in parliament, state media confirmed, saying that her National League for Democracy (NLD) party secured 40 of the 44 seats it contested, according to partial official results.

The dramatic political changes spearheaded by the 66-year-old known fondly as “The Lady” were accompanied by the quasi-civilian government’s most radical economic reform yet – an overhaul of the country’s complex currency regime.

Supporters, some shedding tears of delight, celebrated into the night after the NLD declared that Suu Kyi – who was locked up by the former junta for most of the past 22 years – had secured a seat after Sunday’s byelections.

The veteran activist’s election to political office marks the latest sweeping change in the country formerly known as Burma after decades of outright military rule ended last year.

“This is not so much our triumph as a triumph for people who have decided that they must be involved in the political process in this country,” Suu Kyi said in a victory speech at her party headquarters in Yangon.

“We hope this will be the beginning of a new era.” Suu Kyi struck a conciliatory tone towards the other political parties as she prepares to take her place in a parliament that will remain dominated by the military and its political allies.

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