Suu Kyi party likely to register for Myanmar polls

AP News
Posted: Nov 17, 2011 2:38 AM
Suu Kyi party likely to register for Myanmar polls

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party is likely to register a legal body so it can take part in elections, a party spokesman said Thursday, after Myanmar's military-aligned government lifted a restriction that had barred her from contesting.

More than 100 central committee members of the National League for Democracy party will meet Friday to make the formal decision, Nyan Win, an NLD spokesman, told The Associated Press. "It is highly possible that we will register."

If the NLD registers as a legal party, it could join upcoming but still unscheduled by-elections that would be the first electoral test of its popularity _ and that of Suu Kyi _ in more than two decades.

The NLD refused to register last year mainly because a law required imprisoned members to be expelled from the party, a clause that appeared targeted at Suu Kyi, who was then under house arrest by the military regime. The NLD subsequently boycotted the November 2010 elections, which were called by the junta as part of its promise to introduce democracy.

A nominally civilian government aligned to the military won the elections and formed the government earlier this year. It has won limited praise for instituting some political reforms.

Among them, President Thein Sein dropped the clause that had barred political prisoners from engaging in politics and amended wording of another clause to say registered parties shall "respect and abide" by the constitution rather than "safeguard" it. The change was evidently made to accommodate criticisms of the charter by the NLD without making it illegal.

Nyan Win said if the party decides to reregister, the NLD will take part in the by-elections and likely field Suu Kyi as a candidate. Allowing Suu Kyi's party to participate fully in politics would also give the government greater legitimacy at home and abroad.

The NLD overwhelmingly won a 1990 general election, but the ruling junta refused to honor the results. Suu Kyi has said that the 1990 election results was officially declared in the government gazette and is "an historic result."