Ecstatic cheers of "Long live Aung San Suu Kyi!" echoed through the streets of Rangoon yesterday as Burma's most famous citizen registered her candidacy for a parliamentary by-election. Throngs of flag-waving supporters crowded the local election office to shout support and catch a glimpse of the 66-year-old Nobel peace laureate, who spent years under house arrest.
The scene would have been unthinkable while the country was still under military rule. Her decision to contest the election on 1 April is the latest vote of confidence for reforms by the new, nominally civilian administration.
Since taking office in March, the authorities have released hundreds of prominent political prisoners, signed ceasefire agreements with ethnic rebels and begun a dialogue with Ms Suu Kyi herself. However, even if her pro-democracy party wins all 48 seats in the contest, it will have minimal power. The 440-seat lower house of parliament is heavily weighted with military appointees and allies of the former junta.