November 6, 2015 / 3:37 PM / 2 years ago

Myanmar president says army, government will respect election results

An early voter casts her ballot for Myanmar's general elections, in Yangon November 6, 2015.Soe Zeya Tun

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar President Thein Sein said on Friday that both the military and the government will accept the outcome of Sunday's historic election, and that he would work with opposition parties to ensure a stable transition.

Speaking hours before the two-month election campaign period ends, Thein Sein said a successful election was the key step to continue the reforms he ushered in after coming to power as the head of a semi-civilian government in 2011.

"I'd like to say again that the government and the military will respect and accept the results. I will accept the new government formed based on the election result," Thein Sein said.

The opposition party of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi Suu Kyi is expected to garner the most votes, but it is unclear whether she will win the landslide needed to control the presidency. The president, who forms the cabinet, is chosen by parliament.

Myanmar's military is guaranteed a quarter of seats in both chambers by a constitution drafted by the junta that handed power to Thein Sein. That means to have a parliamentary majority Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy must win more than two-thirds of all contested seats.

Suu Kyi has urged the international community to keep a keen vigil over the country in the months between the vote and the new government taking power at the end of March. A smooth transition was almost as important as fair elections, she said.

Thein Sein said that after the election he would meet the leaders of all political forces and discuss the steps forward.

"These political meetings will not only help the stability in the post-election period but will also help to gently transform into a new political ground," said Thein Sein.

Thein Sein acknowledged that organizing an election was a challenge, but stressed the government's commitment to a credible vote and said more than 10,000 observers will scrutinize the process.

Preparation for the elections has been marred by a series of setbacks with around 4 million people unable to cast their votes. Thousands are missing from voter lists, millions abroad failed to register in time, and most of the 1.1 million persecuted Muslim Rohingya minority are barred from participating.

Myanmar has not had an elected government since the 1960s and only published the results the country's first census in 30 years in May.

Western powers on Friday urged Myanmar to hold a fair and transparent election.

Preliminary election results are expected within 48 hours of the vote, and full results within two weeks.

Writing by Antoni Slodkowski; Editing by Simon Webb and Alison Williams

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