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Suu Kyi`s party on track to win another term in Myanmar

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Supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party take part in an election campaign rally on the outskirts of Yangon.

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Myanmar is set to vote on Sunday in its second democratic general election since the end of oppressive military rule -- a poll that's expected to be marked by ethnic divisions and health concerns over rising coronavirus infections.
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party (NLD) won a landslide in 2015 and established the first civilian government after 50 years of isolation and military authoritarianism.
In the biggest city Yangon, there was optimism and real hope that Suu Kyi would lead the country forward in its development and democratic transition. Five years later, Suu Kyi remains popular among the ethnic Bamar majority and the NLD is expected to take another win.
Internationally, Suu Kyi is no longer the democracy icon once adored in the West, primarily because of her handling of the military crackdown against the ethnic Rohingya Muslim population, which the United Nations said had "the hallmarks of genocide."
More than 740,000 Rohingya fled from Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh in 2016 and 2017 as the military waged a campaign of violence in Rakhine state. Survivors have recounted harrowing atrocities including gang rape, mass killings, torture and widespread destruction of property at the hands of the army.
Myanmar denies the charges and has long claimed to have been targeting terrorists. Those Rohingya still inside Rakhine are segregated and forced to live in conditions akin to prison camps, with restrictions on movement, education, and access to healthcare. "Rohingya are unable to vote and are blocked from accessing full citizenship rights under the discriminatory 1982 Citizenship Law," said John Quinley, Senior Human Rights Specialist at Fortify Rights. "Not only are Rohingya blocked from voting but Rohingya political parties were rejected for running in elections. These are courageous, smart, and qualified politicians that have been stripped for running for office based on their ethnicity."
The disenfranchisement of the Rohingya, however, is unlikely to merit serious mention in Myanmar. When Suu Kyi defended her country against accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice last year -- calling the claims "incomplete and misleading" -- it sealed the former human rights champion's fall from grace in the West.
Domestically, though, her appearance proved popular with many in the country and analysts says it likely helped to bolster political support ahead of the elections.
And that's really what these elections are about: Suu Kyi.
She's Myanmar's de facto leader and State Counselor -- a title invented as a loophole to the constitution barring her from becoming president.
Suu Kyi -- a former political prisoner who spent two decades under house arrest -- is beloved by many for her years of resistance against the military, and for being the daughter of Aung San, the assassinated independence hero.
The two big promises the NLD campaigned on in 2015 around constitutional reform and the peace process have not been accomplished. But that is unlikely to matter with her supporters.
"In a sense it doesn't matter what she's done on specific policy things," said Richard Horsey, a Yangon-based political analyst. "This remains an election about personalities, not about policies."
A 2020 survey from independent election watchdog People's Alliance for Credible Elections found that 79% of people had trust in Suu Kyi.
There is also a lack of an effective opposition, despite 91 parties contesting. The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), formed by the military in 2010 as a vehicle to install a quasi-civilian government following decades of military rule, is the main opposition party.

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