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Myanmar Elections: Countdown To Sanctions Being Lifted Begins

Myanmar completed elections today and the results were a landside for the opposition national League for democracy and its Nobel Peace Prize winning leader Aung San Suu Kyi. From the CSM:

Jubilant supporters of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi sang and danced outside the headquarters of her opposition National League for Democracy here on Sunday night, as the party claimed a stunning near clean sweep of the parliamentary by-elections held earlier in the day.

NLD officials said they were confident of winning 40 of the 45 seats at stake. If confirmed, the results would deal a major blow to the credibility of the military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party (NYSE:USDP) which has dominated parliament since flawed elections in 2010 that the NLD boycotted.

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"What is important from now on is that all the parties to the reform process work closely together," said one Western diplomat.

President Thein Sein reached an accord last August with Ms. Suu Kyi, paving the way for the NLD's return to electoral politics after more than two decades. That deal, which led to the release of hundreds of political prisoners, a relaxation of censorship, and other liberalizing moves, appeared designed to persuade the US and other Western powers, to lift crippling international sanctions.

The unexpected scale of the opposition's apparent victory - matching its triumph in elections in 1990 that the military junta then in power chose to ignore - is likely to unnerve the government - mainly comprising former Army generals - that had hoped to control the pace of political reform, local and foreign analysts suggested.

I do not think this will be enough to get sanctions lifted at this time. I think the US and others will want to see how the ruling party controlled by the army reacts to these results. NLD won 40 of 45 available seats but there are over 600 seats in the parliament so NLD will have no real influence. However these results are very hopeful and Myanmar continues to move in the right direction with its reforms. It will be interesting to see if the ruling party continues on with reforms or if they will be stunned by these results. My view from an investment point is that this result will be viewed as another in a long line of positive steps that will lead to eventual lifting of sanctions later this year. I will be watching the Myanmar related stocks that trade in Singapore tonight as I expect they will see some action to the upside based on these results.

In other Myanmar news legendary frontier market investor Jim Rogers sees Myanmar as an "astonishing opporutunity".

While the long-closed and suppressed country of Myanmar holds elections and starts to haltingly open up, Jim Rogers says the country has an amazing potential, similar to China when it first undertook its economic revival.

"If I could put all of my money into Myanmar, I would," said Rogers at a Singapore last month, according to BI-ME.

Rogers noted that the country sits between the two BRIC countries, China and India. It is also rich in agriculture, metals and resources. He told CNBC that the country is an "astonishing opportunity."