Myanmar kicked off its multi-party general elections on Sunday as over 37 million eligible voters went to the polls across the country.
The polls mark the second general election for the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, under the current constitution.
The NLD won a landslide last time around in 2015, before taking the reins of government the following year
A total of 42,047 polling stations, which are being operated in consistent with health precautions against the COVID-19 pandemic, opened at 6 a.m. local time, Xinhua news agency reported.
Some 5,639 candidates, including candidates from 87 political parties and 260 independent runners, are competing for 1,117 parliamentary seats in the elections, according to the Union Election Commission.
Of them, 1,565 candidates are contesting seats for the House of Representatives (Lower House), 779 candidates for the House of Nationalities (Upper House), 3,112 for regional or state parliaments and 183 for ethnic minority seats.
In the elections, the ruling NLD fielded 1,106 candidates, while the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) had 1,089 to run for the parliamentary seats.
President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Suu Kyi are contesting seats for the House of Representatives (Lower House) and Vice President Henry Van Thio is representing Chin state’s constituency for a seat in the House of Nationalities (Upper House).
U Than Htay, the chairman of USDP, is running for a seat in the House of Representatives (Lower House).
The Union Election Commission called off polls in 15 townships and 665 village tracts of Bago region, Kachin, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine, Shan and Chin states, citing that the areas do not meet a condition to hold free and fair elections.
The polling stations are arranged complying with preventive measures to mitigate transmission of the coronavirus.
Counting of ballots will be done shortly in the presence of contesting candidates and observers after the polling stations close at 4 p.m. local time on Sunday.