Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has confirmed that she will run for parliament in the country’s highly anticipated April by-elections.
A spokesperson for Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party said Tuesday the Nobel Peace Prize winner will compete for a seat in Kawhmu Township, on the outskirts of her hometown of Rangoon.
Last week, the government approved the NLD to participate in the April 1 elections, marking its return to mainstream politics after two decades. But it had been unclear whether Aung San Suu Kyi herself would compete for a seat.
It will mark the first time the pro-democracy leader has run for political office. Her NLD party won a landslide victory in 1990, but the military government prevented it from assuming power. Aung San Suu Kyi spent the majority of the years since then under house arrest.
The NLD boycotted general elections in November 2010 because of restrictions that, among other things, would have prevented Aung San Suu Kyi from running. That vote installed a nominally civilian government that has made a series of reforms, including beginning a dialogue with opposition groups.
Nicholas Farrelly, a Burma analyst at the Australian National University, told VOA the NLD’s decision to compete in the upcoming elections reflects a significant change in Burma’s political climate.
“Since the elections that were held back in November 2010, so much has changed in the politics of Burma, and I think we see that so clearly with this recent effort by Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters to become active players once again in the country’s mainstream political system.”
Farrelly warns that the outcome of the upcoming elections may not significantly impact government policy. But he says it still represents a symbolic step in Burma’s path to democracy.
“To have Aung San Suu Kyi sitting in the National Assembly would be a real turn for the better. For the country, it would perhaps show that some of the vitriol and confrontation and bad blood which has tended to affect the country’s politics is starting to be forgotten, and with that, there may be more opportunities for more compromise and for some kind of reconciliation.”
The elections are intended to fill 48 parliamentary seats vacated by those who have since become government ministers. But the number of seats available is not enough to threaten the resounding majority held by the ruling military-backed party. (*)
SOURCE : VOA
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2012