Burma Pro-Democracy Icon Suu Kyi Casts Her 1st-Ever Ballot

November 8, 2015 Updated: November 8, 2015

YANGON, Burma/Myanmar—Though championed worldwide as a pro-democracy icon, there is something Aung San Suu Kyi was unable to do until Sunday: vote.

The 70-year-old smiled but said nothing to waiting reporters as she cast her ballot at a polling station near the lakeside villa that served as her prison when the country was under dictatorship.

Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy party, confirmed it was a first for “The Lady.”

Suu Kyi is Burma’s most popular politician and, if the elections are credible, the NLD is widely expected to win the largest number of seats in parliament. Though that could pave the way for an NLD presidency, it won’t be Suu Kyi. A clause in the constitution, clearly penned with her in mind, bars her from the top job.

Suu Kyi, who spent 15 on-again-off-again years under house arrest, was locked up during the last openly contested vote in 1990. The NLD won by a landslide, but a shocked army refused to recognize the results.

In 2010, when the junta agreed to hold elections that put in place today’s nominally civilian government, Suu Kyi’s party boycotted, saying the election laws were unfair. Again she was under house arrest.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s last opportunity to vote would have been in a 2012 by-election, but there was no election in her township, Bahan.