Guwahati, Apil 2 (IANS) As the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi claimed a landslide victory in Sunday's by-election in Myanmar, it cheered more than one lakh Myanmarese refugees in India's Northeast, particularly in Mizoram.
The Myanmarese in Mizoram are now awaiting the final verdict of Sunday's polls, to be announced by the country's Election Commission, probably in the next one week. The refugees believe the NLD's victory in the by-elections is a small yet strong step towards establishing democracy in the country.
"We are happy that the NLD is winning but its winning the by-polls will not be of much help to reform our country, which has been under the military regime for a long time. We have also heard that the candidates supported by the military government had violated many rules," Kn Htwe, president of the Aizawl-based Burmese Social Welfare Association, told IANS.
"Our people are happy. Many of them have gone to churches and prayed for the victory. However, they know very well that the time to pack our bags has not come yet. This is a mere by-election to only 48 seats. Even if Aung San Suu Kyi wins all the seats, she won't be able to make much difference," he said and added that the people of Myanmar must wait for the next general elections in the country slated for 2015.
"However, I believe, if she wins, Aung San Suu Kyi will be able to create a conducive atmosphere in the country for free and fair polls in 2015. Her win will also give hope to lakhs of people who are facing the worst-ever living conditions every day inside the country and those like us in self-chosen exile," he said.
Tint Swe, who was elected Member of Parliament in Myanmar in the 1990 general elections, also termed the holding of by elections as a positive move. Swe, who won the 1990 polls in Myanmar as an NLD candidate, said that his party had fielded 44 candidates in this by-election but the candidature of one of them was rejected.
Swe, a physician by profession, has been living an exiled life in New Delhi since 1990 and gathering support for the pro-democracy movement in the country from outside.
"Our leaders in Myanmar have calculated the pattern of voting and it is almost sure that we are going to win the by-elections in all the 43 seats," Swe said.
Assam-based researcher and commentator on Myanmar, Nava Thakuria said that the polls and the NLD's claimed victory was a positive change for a country like Myanmar which had been under military rule for more than a decade. "Suu Kyi may not be able to rule the country unless there is an amendment to the 2008 constitution of the country. But if elected, she will play a vital role and will be able to carry the message of the people of the country to the outer world," he said.
"Myanmar's neighbours like India, Bangladesh and Thailand should play a vital role in supporting the establishment of democracy in the country. For India, it is a moral responsibility as well as in national interest - if democracy is established in Myanmar, India's northeast will be relieved of more than one lakh Myanmarese refugees," he said and added that a comfortable government in Myanmar is also a must for successful implementation of India's Look East Policy - because if India has to look east, it has to look through Myanmar.
Several thousand Myanmarese have been living in different parts of Mizoram, bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh. They are working at various shops and factories after obtaining work permits. However, a few hundred more Myanmarese have been reportedly working without any legal permits.
Four of India's northeastern states - Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh - share a 1,640-km unfenced border with Myanmar.
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