Burma has a real election

Myanmar had an election and the opposition party did very well:

The sweeping victory of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party in recent elections has been confirmed by state media.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, or NLD, won 43 of the 44 seats it contested in the by-elections that took place Sunday, the government’s official MRTV reported late Tuesday, confirming the NLD’s own estimates of the results.

The opposition has reported irregularities in the voting process, but they still won the votes. That’s a very good sign, though it’s a bit early to call U Thein Sein the Gorbachev of Myanmar. This was a painless move by the rulers, the number of opposition party members elected is far too small to have any real power, and it has already led to improved relations with the US:

Clinton said the United States would seek to name a new U.S. ambassador to Myanmar after an absence of two decades, establish a Myanmar office of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and support a “normal country program” for Myanmar by the U.N. Development Program.

She said the United States would also allow private U.S. aid groups to pursue a broad range of nonprofit activities in Myanmar on projects such as democracy building, health and education.

Select Myanmar government officials and lawmakers will also receive permission to visit the United States, she said, relaxing a long-standing visa ban.

Clinton said the United States was also committed to “beginning the process of a targeted easing of our ban on the export of U.S. financial services and investment as part of a broader effort to help accelerate economic modernization and political reform.”

Hopefully, this will lead to more reforms and more rewards from the US. If the reforms continue, the next big election, in 2015, could get interesting–the opposition could actually take control of the government.

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