Myanmar Opposition Party Claims Election Win
The victory, if confirmed, would allow Suu Kyi to head a small opposition in the military-dominated parliament. The military has ruled almost exclusively in the Southeast Asian nation for a half-century, according to the AP.
The European Union hinted that it could ease some sanctions if the vote went smoothly, the BBC reported.
"We hope the whole day can be run in a peaceful way and we'll make an evaluation later on the basis of all the polling sessions that we will be seeing," EU observer Ivo Belet said.
A win could signify a reversal of fortune for Suu Kyi, who the former junta had kept imprisoned in her home for more than two decades.
Myanmar's current government is still led by military figures from the old regime, which was accused of widespread rights abuses. But since 2010, the rise of a new generation of leaders has led to the freeing of political prisoners and relaxation of media restrictions, according to the BBC.
"They need her and she needs them to break the 25 years of political stalemate," said Maung Zarni, a Myanmar expert and a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics. "She holds the key for the regime's need for its international acceptance and normalization."
But the country is still a long way from attaining a full democracy, said Rachel Harvey, a BBC correspondent in Myanmar. Harvey said ethnic minorities must be made to feel more included in the political system and that President Thein Sein needs to persuade members in parliament to open up the country to the outside world.
All election results must be confirmed by the official electoral commission, which could take days, according to the AP.