Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi formally registered her party yesterday for any upcoming elections, returning the Nobel Prize laureate to the political arena.
Aung San Suu Kyi decided last month to formally rejoin politics in the military-dominated country after recent reforms by the nominally civilian administration that took power this year. Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Tin Oo and other party members registered the party at the Union Election Commission in the capital, Naypyidaw.
The party boycotted last year’s general elections because of restrictive rules that among other things prevented Aung San Suu Kyi from being a candidate. The government has since lifted many of those restrictions.
The government had disqualified the NLD for boycotting the election.
NLD spokesman Nyan Win said the party would contest all vacant seats in an upcoming by-election and Aung San Suu Kyi would soon announce in which constituency she would run.
No date has been set for that election, but last week Election Commission Chairman Tin Aye said the government would announce it three months before the by-election, giving candidates time to campaign.
Allowing Aung San 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 US, for introducing reforms.
During her visit to Myanmar early this month, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she wanted to ensure that future elections are “free, fair and credible in the eyes of the people.”
The polls in November last year 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 Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest during different periods for 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 would continue to work for their release.