Myanmar's Suu Kyi to run in parliamentary polls

AP News
Posted: Nov 21, 2011 12:29 AM
Myanmar's Suu Kyi to run in parliamentary polls

Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi intends to run for parliament in upcoming by-elections, a decision that was expected after her party decided last week to rejoin mainstream politics in long-isolated Myanmar.

Nyan Win, the spokesman of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, said Monday she has not yet decided which district she will seek to represent. But she "has the intention to stand for the elections," he told The Associated Press.

In a landmark development, the NLD decided on Friday to rejoin politics and register for future elections, signaling its confidence in recent reforms by the nominally civilian government that took power earlier this year.

The military-aligned ruling party won the November 2010 parliamentary elections held by the junta as part of its promise to introduce democracy and relinquish power after nearly five decades of military rule.

The NLD boycotted the elections because of a law that had prevented Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi from running. The new government, however, later scrapped the law, allowing the NLD to take part in the political reforms now under way.

According to the new election law, a registered party is required to run for at least three seats in the legislature, made up of 224 members in the upper house and 440 members in the lower house. Of these, 48 seats are vacant for which special elections will be held, although no date has been set.

Suu Kyi had hinted on Friday that she would run for a parliamentary seat in the special elections, saying: "If one is engaged in politics, one has to do what is necessary. If I feel that I should take part in elections, I will participate."

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She, however, cautioned that "the road ahead is full of difficulties and the road to democracy is endless."

Bringing Suu Kyi's party back into the fold would give the government greater legitimacy at home and abroad. It has already won cautious praise from international observers and critics, including the United States, for introducing reforms.

President Thein Sein, a former army officer, has shown a willingness to talk to Suu Kyi, lifted some restrictions on the media and the Internet, legalized unions and scrapped an unpopular dam project. Still, hundreds of political prisoners remain in jails.

Thein Sein has welcomed the NLD's decision to rejoin politics, saying it was "a positive signal."