YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Aung San Suu Kyi claimed victory Monday in Myanmar's historic by-election, saying she hoped it will mark the beginning of a new era for the long-repressed country.
Suu Kyi spoke to thousands of cheering supporters who gathered outside her opposition party headquarters a day after her party claimed she had won a parliamentary seat in the closely watched vote.
"The success we are having is the success of the people," Suu Kyi said. "It is not so much our triumph as a triumph of the people who have decided that they have to be involved in the political process in this country."
"We hope this will be the beginning of a new era," she said, as supporters chanted her name and thrust their hands into the air to flash "V'' for victory signs.
The election sets the stage for the former political prisoner to take public office for the first time and lead a small bloc of opposition lawmakers in Myanmar's military-dominated Parliament.
Official results are expected within the next few days.
If confirmed, the victory would mark a major milestone in the Southeast Asian nation that is emerging from a ruthless era of military rule and also an astonishing reversal of fortune for a woman who became one of the world's most prominent prisoners of conscience.
The former junta had kept Suu Kyi imprisoned in her lakeside home for the better part of two decades. When she was finally released in late 2010, just after a general election that was deemed neither free nor fair, few could have imagined she would so quickly make the leap from democracy advocate to elected official — opening the way for a potential presidential run in 2015.
- Aung San Suu Kyi