Learning to celebrate democracy in Burma

Thazin Pwint Ah
Thazin Pwint Ah
CBS News

(CBS News) RANGOON - A celebration broke out Sunday night in the streets of Rangoon as supporters packed the area outside Aung San Suu Kyi's party headquarters, reveling in the Nobel Peace Prize winner's parliamentary election victory.

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports that on late Sunday afternoon, as opposition tallies started to trickle in, Thazin Pwint Ah felt she was watching more than just election results.

"I don't know how this feels, because we don't get this much, so I hope we can feel democracy, and one day I hope I can tell you how democracy feels here," Ah said.

Election day started early in the rural district Suu Kyi fought to represent. Before dawn, a crowd gathered just to get a glimpse of the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

It's her first bid for elected office, but just the latest in her decades-long battle against the military-backed government here.

On her way to polling stations this morning, there was no mistaking Suu Kyi's car, as it was swarmed with people. Hundreds ethnic Kareni people in their special "tin-dai" - or formal dress - flocked to her.

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Suu Kyi's party is competing for just 44 seats of the 664 in parliament. The military and its political party dominate the governing body.

The enthusiasm among the locals is strong regardless. They say they voted for "the lady" - as she's known here - because they see her as "courageous."

International election monitors - only invited at the last-minute - seemed initially optimistic despite widespread concern and reports of voting irregularities.

On Friday, Suu Kyi said: "It's not power we're trying to win - but democracy for our people."

Though official results are not expected for a couple of days, it may be the exercise of voting that really counts.

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi leaves a polling station in her car in the village of Wah Thin Kha, Myanmar, Sunday, April 1, 2012. AP Photo