Suu Kyi kicks off advance voting for elderly in poll
NAYPYIDAW, Oct 29: Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi cast her ballot on Thursday ahead of election day next week with hundreds of thousands of elderly voters across the country expected to follow suit to reduce the risk of coronavirus.
Wearing a face mask, rubber gloves and her trademark flowers in her hair, Suu Kyi was one of the first in the country to vote in the capital, Naypyidaw.
The 75-year-old's National League for Democracy (NLD) is widely expected to be returned to power in the November 8 polls -- only the second election since the Southeast Asian nation emerged from outright military rule.
Thousands of polling stations across Yangon and other areas badly hit by the pandemic opened in advance to allow voters over the age of 60 to cast their ballots in a bid to protect them from coronavirus.
Some teams of election officials even carried mobile ballot boxes around streets to make voting more accessible for the vulnerable population numbering 800,000 in Yangon alone.
Kyaw Goke, 73, turned out to vote for only the second time in his life, clad in face mask and shield at a downtown booth with chairs laid out to follow strict physical distancing rules.
"Even if I'm afraid of Covid, I believe voting is necessary," the 73-year-old told AFP.
"I hope Mother Suu wins. She's been the one protecting us from Covid-19." Suu Kyi has placed herself front and centre of the nation's efforts to combat the pandemic, giving near-daily addresses to implore citizens to follow lockdown measures. Experts say her decision to ignore calls for the vote to be postponed is a gamble. -AFP