Suu Kyi's party registers to run in Myanmar polls

AP News
Posted: Dec 23, 2011 3:45 AM
Suu Kyi's party registers to run in Myanmar polls

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi formally registered her party Friday for any upcoming elections, returning the Nobel laureate to the political arena and winning plaudits from her political rivals in Myanmar's military-dominated parliament.

Suu Kyi decided last month to formally rejoin politics after recent reforms by the nominally civilian administration that took power this year. Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy leader Tin Oo and other party members registered the party at the Union Election Commission in the capital, Naypyitaw.

The party boycotted last year's general elections because of restrictive rules that among other things prevented Suu Kyi from being a candidate. The government has since lifted many of those restrictions.

The government had taken the NLD off the list of legally recognized political parties because of the boycott.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win said that the party would contest all vacant seats in an upcoming by-election and that Suu Kyi would soon announce in which constituency she will run.

No date has been set for that election, but Election Commission Chairman Tin Aye said last week that the government would announce it three months before the by-election, giving candidates time to campaign.

After registering, Suu Kyi met separately with Khin Aung Myint and Thura Shwe Mann, the speakers of the upper and lower houses of parliament, who both said they welcomed her action. Both had served under the previous military-led government, which kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for much of the past two decades.

"All parties should join hands and work together" at a time when Myanmar is promoting the spirit of democracy, Khin Aung Myint told reporters.

Allowing Suu Kyi's party back into the political fold will likely 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.

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During her visit to Myanmar early this month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she wants to ensure that future elections are "free, fair and credible in the eyes of the people."

The polls in November 2010 were Myanmar's first since the NLD overwhelmingly won a general election in 1990. The military junta at that time refused to honor the results.

The regime kept Suu Kyi under house arrest during different periods for a total of 15 years. She was released just after last year's elections and is now free to move about and meet people.

The government continues to hold hundreds of other political prisoners, and Suu Kyi has said the NLD will continue to work for their release.