|Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) boycotted last year’s election [Reuters]|
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has confirmed she will run for a parliamentary seat in April by-elections.
Nyan Win, a spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party (NLD), said on Tuesday that the Nobel Peace Prize winner had announced during a party meeting that she would seek a seat in suburban Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city and her hometown.
Suu Kyi said last year that she would run for parliament but had appeared to backtrack since then.
A victory would give the longtime political prisoner a voice in parliament for the first time after years as country’s most prominent democracy campaigner.
Her presence will add significance to upcoming by-elections that will be held almost a year after nominally democratic elections ended a half century of military rule.
NLD decided to rejoin electoral politics following recent signs that the new government is easing years of repression.
The 2010 Myanmar election is alleged to have been arranged to produce a civilian government that the former military rulers wanted, with Thein Sein, a former general, elected president.
But, to general surprise, the new leadership moved quickly last year to free some political prisoners, hold peace talks with ethnic rebels, relax media censorship and allow protests and trade unions.
Suu Kyi’s NLD scored a landslide win in the 1990 elections for a constituent assembly but the country’s military rulers refused to cede power.
While Suu Kyi, wields popular support in the country, her new direction has drawn mixed reactions, with some criticising her for dealing with an adminstration still tied to the former military government.
But a prominent member of the NDL said Suu Kyi had decided to give Sein’s government the benefit of the doubt by agreeing to participate in elections.
“There are differences in the party. I personally disagreed with the NLD running for parliament, but [Suu Kyi] wants to take the initiative and she accepts that without the military’s co-operation, political change isn’t possible,” said Win Tin, Myanmar’s longest-serving political prisoner.
Suu Kyi has set her sights set on winning a good number of the 48 vacant seats in the 1,158-seat national
But she has said little about what she would do in parliament or whether, as rumoured, she could take a cabinet post or even the vice-presidency.