The country has no opinion polls, but other parties are clearly scrambling to match the size and enthusiasm of crowds at NLD rallies. For NLD supporters, the vote will be a historic chance to right past wrongs.
The party won a landslide in 1990, which was annulled by the junta. Suu Kyi was by then already under house arrest, which was to last most of the next twenty years. She was freed in late 2010, a few months before the military handed power to a semi-civilian government led by ex-generals who launched political reforms that led to Myanmar emerging from decades of international isolation.
The obstruction of political and imprisonment of civil society leaders constitute grave threats to Myanmar's democratic transition. Many people those locked up in the last two years have played key roles in bringing about democratic reforms, defending human rights, and exposing governmental misconduct. The absence of their voices in the pre-election period calls into question the government's commitment to free and fair elections.
The government's crackdown on dissent leaves the country unprepared for the post-election period. The democratic aspirations of Myanmar's people hinge on several dangerous months of political horse-trading as a new government is formed and takes office. During this period, civil society must serve as bulwark against authoritarianism, religious extremism and naked power grabs.
The imprisonment of those who have taken great personal risks to advance tolerance, non-violence, and democratic ideas undermines civil society's strength and resolve to confront imminent challenges. The upcoming Sunday elections mark a watershed moment for Myanmar. However, the outlook is far from certain, and the government's recent attempt to lock away its strongest critics does not augur well for the difficult months to come.
By Guylain Gustave Moke
World Affairs Expert
Photo-Credit: AFP- Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a speech at rally in Yangon