Myanmar Holds Election as Transition to Democracy Faces Hurdles

Myanmar Holds Election as Transition to Democracy Faces Hurdles

Incumbent party led by Aung San Suu Kyi is seen staying in power despite concern over treatment of ethnic minority

YANGON, Myanmar—People across Myanmar made their way to the polls Sunday for the country’s first nationwide elections since a historic vote in 2015 transferred power to a civilian government after decades of military rule.

The incumbent National League for Democracy, led by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, is widely expected to remain in power. But international optimism that surrounded Myanmar’s shift toward democracy five years ago has since soured into disappointment.

The country has experienced a surge in majoritarian sentiment that has entrenched decades-old ethnic divisions and silenced dissent—a trend that some have said Ms. Suu Kyi has done little to counter. A brutal military operation against the Rohingya minority forced more than 740,000 people to flee across the border in 2017. Myanmar faces an international lawsuit alleging it committed genocide.

Many longtime observers of Myanmar and backers of its political transformation have said the democratic transition has stalled.