Aung San Suu Kyi has said she hopes her victory in a landmark election will mark the beginning of a new era for Burma.

Ms Suu Kyi spoke to thousands of supporters outside her opposition party headquarters yesterday, a day after her party claimed she had won a parliamentary seat in closely watched by-elections.

The 66-year-old democracy champion called the election "a triumph of the people", and said: "We hope this will be the beginning of a new era."

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Official results have not yet been released.

If confirmed, the victory would mark a major milestone in the south-east Asian nation as it emerges from an era of military rule – as well as an astonishing reversal of fortune for a woman who became one of the world's most prominent prisoners of conscience.

"The success we are having is the success of the people," Ms Suu Kyi said, as a sea of supporters chanted her name and thrust their hands into the air to flash "V" for victory signs.

"It is not so much our triumph as a triumph of the people who have decided that they have to be involved in the political process in this country," she said. "We hope this will be the beginning of a new era."

If confirmed, Ms Suu Kyi will take public office for the first time and lead a small bloc of opposition lawmakers in Burma's military-dominated Parliament."