Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein
Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein SeinCreative Commons

Burma, also known as Myanmar, will go to the polls on Sunday, 8 November, for the first time since the military rulers took over the reins of the former British colony 50 years back.

Thousands of Myanmar citizens are hoping that the election results will turn the tide for the country, which for the last half a century has been under the iron-fisted military rule that destroyed the economic fabric of a once-promising nation.

Come Sunday, all attention will be on Myanmar. Even the United States has said that its key officials will be closely watching the election in the country for signs that indeed the military dictators are serious in their effort to return power to the people.

Here is a list of things to know about the Myanmar elections: 

1. There are over 6,000 candidates being fielded by 91 national and ethnic parties.

2. The party belonging to the military junta -- Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) under the general-turned-president Thein Sein - and the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) headed by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi are the two main parties contesting the elections.

3. More than 800 women are standing for elections - the highest in its  history.

4. Despite a high concentration of Muslim population, there are only handful of Muslim candidates who are contesting the elections. Both USDP and Suu Kyi's NLD chose not to field Muslim candidates due to strong anti-Muslim sentiments harboured by the Buddhist radicals.  

5. The 800,000-strong Rohingya Muslims have no voting rights as they are not considered Muslims, rather they are treated illegal Bangladeshi migrants. The other Muslims in the country can vote.

6. In the 1990 elections, Suu Kyi's NLD won by a landslide but the military decided to ignore the results and continued its control over the country.  

7. It still needs to be seen, if  Suu Kyi will become the president. As per the Burmese constitution, even if Suu Kyi's party wins the presidential race, she cannot be elected the president as her late husband and sons are not Burmese citizens. Suu Kyi but told the press that she will be "above the president" if her party wins the elections.

8. The military will still continue to have some control even if they lose the elections as the constitution states that 25% of seats should be held by the military junta appointees. This essentially will ensure that no matter which way the voters sway, the current ruling party led by general-turned-president Thein Sein will continue to cling on to power.

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