Aung San Suu Kyi's party to run in Burma elections

 

Myanmar's main opposition party led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi
decided today to rejoin politics and register for future elections,
signaling its confidence in recent reforms by the military-aligned
government.


The National League for Democracy party "has unanimously decided to reregister as a political party ... and will run in the elections," it said in a statement issued at the end of a meeting of senior members from across the country.

Some joyous members broke into a dance as the announcement was made.

"What we are doing now involves a lot of risk but it is time to take the risk because in politics there is no 100 percent assurance of success," Suu Kyi told them.

Earlier, member after member, including Suu Kyi, spoke out in favor of joining the political arena because of reforms initiated by the nominally civilian but military-aligned government, which have drawn cautious approval from even its most bitter critic, the United States.

President Barack Obama announced Friday that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would visit early next month — the first such trip in more than a half-century — after what he said were "flickers of progress" in Myanmar.

The NLD refused to register last year because of a restriction that would have prevented Suu Kyi from running. The restriction was lifted this year by the new government that took office following the November 2010 elections held by the long-ruling military junta as part of its promise to restore democracy and relinquish power.

"Personally I am for re-registration," Suu Kyi said in her speech to the delegates at the party headquarters in Yangon.

Any party that registers itself is required to run for at least three seats in the still-unscheduled by-elections for 48 vacant seats in Parliament. The legislature comprises 224 members in the upper house and 440 members in the lower house.

"Instead of participating in three seats in the by-elections, I would prefer to take part in all seats," Suu Kyi said. It would be the first electoral test of the NLD's popularity — and that of Suu Kyi — in more than two decades.

It is likely that Suu Kyi would run for office, said NLD spokesman Nyan Win. He said the party will file registration papers with the Election Commission in the capital, Naypyitaw, "as soon as possible."

"Some party members are concerned that my dignity will be affected if I run for the election," Suu Kyi told her colleagues. "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."

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

The NLD's refusal to register last year was mainly because of an election law that required political parties to expel members who have been incarcerated. The clause appeared to target Suu Kyi, who was then under house arrest by the military regime. The NLD subsequently boycotted the elections.

However, Myanmar's new civilian government, headed by a former army officer who was prime minister in the junta, has shown a willingness to deal with Suu Kyi. It also has lifted some restrictions on the Internet, legalized unions and scrapped an unpopular dam project.

Bringing Suu Kyi's party back into the fold would give the government greater legitimacy at home and abroad.

"The NLD has to reregister if the party wants to join the political arena. The political climate has changed compared to 2010 and we have to make a practical decision," said Aung Myo, an NLD member from Sagaing region.

The NLD overwhelmingly won a 1990 general election, but the junta refused to honor the results. The military 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 also continues to hold hundreds of political prisoners although there are moves to free many of them. The party's decision Friday to re-enter the election fray was met with qualified support from some exiled pro-democracy activists.

Soe Aung, a spokesman for the Thailand-based Forum for Democracy in Burma, said it is more important that a dialogue between Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein continues.

He said such talks should seek substantive results, such as the release of all political prisoners and an end to army attacks in ethnic minority areas, where the government has long battled groups seeking greater autonomy.

He warned that Thein Sein may not have enough power to combat others in Myanmar's ruling circles who oppose reforms, and it was uncertain whether Suu Kyi's party can achieve change in Parliament, where the military and its allies hold a large majority.

Maung Zarni, a longtime exiled activist who is a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics, cautioned that the pro-military tilt in Parliament "doesn't give much room for political maneuverings."

Suu Kyi told her colleagues that the party will continue to work for the release of political prisoners, the end of ethnic strife and a strengthening of the rule of law.

AP

Suggested Topics
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Sport
Steven Gerrard had to be talked into adopting a deeper role by his manager, Brendan Rodgers
sport LIVEFollow the latest news and scores from today's Premier League as Liverpool make a blistering start against Norwich
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLESir Cliff Richard has used a candid appearance on an Australian talk show to address long-running speculation about his sexuality

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport Hamilton captured his third straight Formula One race with ease on Sunday, leading from start to finish to win the Chinese Grand Prix

Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit