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Myanmar’s Thein Hails Suu Kyi Poll Victory, Vows Stable Power Transfer

Former President's Grandson Monitors Myanmar Election 1:19

YANGON - Myanmar President Thein Sein congratulated democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on her apparent election triumph Wednesday - but has yet to set a timescale for negotiations over the transfer of power.

Her party appears to have trounced the ruling camp in the country's first free election in 25 years and inched towards an absolute majority in parliament.

Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) has won over 80 percent of the seats declared so far in the lower house and is well ahead in the upper house and regional assemblies.

If the final results confirm the trend, Suu Kyi's triumph will sweep out an old guard of former generals that has run Myanmar since the junta handed over power to Thein Sein's semi-civilian government in 2011.

Thein Sein reiterated that the government would accept the results of the election and agreed to Suu Kyi's request to hold reconciliation talks soon, but a time and location for the negotiations was not set.

Image: TOPSHOTS-MYANMAR-POLITICS-VOTE
Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi celebrating her poll success. YE AUNG THU / AFP - Getty Images

"Congratulations ... to the chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi and her party for gathering the support of the people," read a statement posted on the Facebook page of the presidential spokesman.

"The government will respect and follow the people's choice and decision, and work on transferring power peacefully according to the timetable," said the statement, adding that the president would work with "all other people" to ensure stability in the post-election period.

Suu Kyi has also invited the powerful army chief to hold reconciliation talks, but he has yet to respond to the letter.

The armed forces continue to wield considerable power in Myanmar's political institutions, under a constitution drafted before the end of nearly 50 years of rule. It is unclear how Suu Kyi and the generals will work together.

Relations between Suu Kyi and armed forces chief Min Aung Hlaing are said to be strained. One of the biggest sources of tension between Suu Kyi and the military is a clause in the constitution barring her from the presidency because her children are foreign nationals. Few doubt the military inserted the clause to rule her out.

While her letters seek conciliation, Suu Kyi has become increasingly defiant on the presidential clause as the scale of her victory has become apparent.

Upcoming Election in Myanmar Could Mean Big Changes for the Nation 1:33

She has made it clear she will run the country regardless of who the NLD elects as president and described the constitution as "very silly".

"We'll find one," she told the BBC in an interview on Tuesday, referring to her choice of president. "But that won't stop me from making all the decisions as the leader of the winning party."

Among other formidable challenges for Suu Kyi is trying to put an end to decades of conflict with armed ethnic groups.

Thein Sein failed to do that despite protracted talks that led to a ceasefire with some groups.

Sunday's vote was Myanmar's first freely contested general election since Thein Sein ushered in a period of reforms that prompted a partial lifting of international sanctions. Final results are due no later than two weeks after Sunday's poll.