Myanmar's Suu Kyi could seek parliament seat

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 29, 2011 2:43 AM
Myanmar's Suu Kyi could seek parliament seat

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi might stand for parliament in an upcoming by-election after her party re-registers itself to enter politics, a party spokesman said.

Suu Kyi has been blocked from politics and detained for long stretches of time since returning to her homeland from abroad in 1988.

But after holding the first election in 20 years last November, Myanmar's military nominally handed power in March to a civilian government and it has introduced some reforms and started a dialogue with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party was officially disbanded for refusing to take part in last year's election although it has continued to function.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win said the party was likely to get re-registered under an amended party law that drops clauses the party had objected to.

Asked if Suu Kyi herself would stand in a by-election after the party's re-registration, Nyan Win said: "I think she will and I personally want her to."

Asked by Reuters a month ago if she would stand in a by-election if the law was amended, the 66-year old Suu Kyi said she would have to get the approval of her party's central executive committee.

A set of by-elections is expected late this year.

Analysts say the government's reforms, including the recent release of about 200 political prisoners, are aimed at shedding Myanmar's pariah status and giving it some legitimacy with the international community, particularly the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member.

Since coming to power this year, the new government has stopped criticizing Suu Kyi and issuing veiled threats and instead sent an envoy, Labor Minister Aung Kyi, to meet her on three occasions. They are due to meet again on Sunday, government and party officials said.

Suu Kyi also had a meeting with President Thein Sein in the capital, Naypyitaw, in August.

Well-informed sources close to the government said the government wanted Suu Kyi and members of her party in parliament to give it legitimacy.

"They think the participation of some NLD lawmakers including Suu Kyi would surely help improve their image and legitimacy," said a retired senior diplomat.

Under the amended political party law, a clause barring anyone convicted of a crime from joining a party has been dropped.

Another change requires political parties to "respect and obey" a 2008 constitution instead of "preserve and protect."

Suu Kyi and other democracy activists objected to the constitution, drafted by a military-appointed convention, because it effectively enshrined the supremacy of the military in politics.

(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Robert Birsel and Ron Popeski)