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Suu Kyi 'likely' to stand in Myanmar by-election


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In this photograph dated on May 14, 1999 Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi talks to the press at her Nation League for Democracy (NLD) party headquarters in Yangon. — Photo by AFP

YANGON: Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is likely to contest a by-election in the coming months, a spokesman for her party said Saturday, following a change to party registration laws.

The National League for Democracy (NLD), delisted last year for boycotting a rare election, will consider on Friday whether to re-register as a political party, paving the way for Suu Kyi to return to the official political arena.

“The NLD is likely to register and also Daw Suu is likely to participate at the coming by-election,” Nyan Win, a party spokesman told AFP. Daw is a term of respect in Myanmar.

It is not yet clear when a by-election will be held, but there are more than 40 seats available in parliament's two chambers.

The NLD won a 1990 election but was never allowed to take office, and it shunned last year's vote largely because of rules that would have forced it to expel imprisoned members. Suu Kyi was under house arrest at the time.

She was released a few days after last November's poll, which was widely condemned as a farce by the West and marred by claims of cheating, but the new army-backed government has surprised critics with a series of reformist moves.

These include a recent amendment to a law on political parties, endorsed by President Thein Sein, which removed the condition that all parties must agree to “preserve” the country's 2008 constitution, according to state media.

A decision to re-register the NLD is widely expected after 100 senior party members gather in Yangon on Friday to discuss the move.

Nyan Win did not comment on which constituency Suu Kyi would stand in, or what kind of position she expected, but party sources said she would contest in a Yangon township.

While Myanmar is now ruled by a nominally civilian government, its ranks are filled with former generals.

Suu Kyi — who strongly criticised the constitution, part of what the regime called its “road map to democracy” — is expected to hold a press conference on Monday to mark the first anniversary of her release.

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