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Myanmar: Vote counting starts after landmark poll

Votes are being counted in Myanmar’s first openly contested national election in 25 years.

The Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and the military-backed Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP) are seeking parliament seats and presidency.

Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency because the constitution disqualifies anyone with foreign offspring – her children are British. But she said previously that her position would be above the president if her party wins the election. Current president Thein Sein says, he will respect the election results no matter which party wins.

More than 6,000 candidates from over 90 parties are contending for the 664-seat parliament in the first national elections.

However, 25% of seats are reserved for unelected military representatives, who are expected to side with the USDP. The NLD must take 67% of all contested seats in order to gain a majority.

Ahead of the vote, security was stepped up across the country, with some 40,000 police guarding polling stations.

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

Photo Credit: AP

Vietnam: Don’t ‘militarize’ South China Sea

Chinese President Xi Jin-Ping arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam on November 5 and had a talk with Vietnamese Communist Party Chief Nguyen Phu Trong to repair the relations damaged by Beijing’s assertive moves in disputed waters claimed by China, Vietnam and other countries.

Xi proposed seven suggestions and committed to managing and solving maritime disputes so as not to impact on the healthy and stable development of mutual ties.

He also hoped his visit “could help lift China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership to a new level."

Nguyen Phu Trong says that China and Vietnam should carry out a DOC (Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea) together and regulate the COC (Code of Conduct on the South China Sea) as soon as possible.

He also asked the Chinese President not to militarize and maintain peace in the South China Sea.

Videos posted online show scuffles between protesters and security forces in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. One person with a bloodied face is heard shouting, “This is the bloodstain of Xi Jinping! I was beaten up because of Xi Jinping.”

Peter Lam Bui, a witness, told VOA that dozens of people had gathered earlier to oppose Xi’s visit, blaming him for taking away Vietnamese islands.

“They [security forces] assaulted us a few minutes after we had rallied,” he said. “Many people were hit hard, to the point that they fainted and fell on the ground. One protester was hit in the face and has been hospitalized since then.”

The Ho Chi Minh City police could not be reached for comment.

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

Photo Credit: AP

Laos: Obama to be first the US president to visit Laos

President Barack Obama is to visit Laos in 2016, making him the first U.S. president to visit the Southeast Asian nation.

Ben Rhodes, the president’s deputy national security adviser, said Wednesday that a partnership was developing between the countries, and that there is a “sense of potential" in U.S.-Laos relations, “for the first time in a long time."

During the Vietnam War, Laos was the target of U.S. aerial bombings.

“A quick lesson on how unexploded ordinance detector works from brave men & women who use them in de-mining efforts," Rhodes said.

As part of a top-secret operation to destroy North Vietnamese supply routes, the United States dropped more than 270 million bombs in the impoverished landlocked country of six million.

The country is still haunted by the conflict – one-third of the bombs had failed to detonate on impact, and unexpected explosions claim an average of 500 victims a year.

Photo Credit: AP/達志影像

Photo Credit: AP

Translated and compiled by June and Eric Wong
Edited by Olivia Yang