24 September, 2014 / Ziqa'ad 28, 1435

Aung San Suu Kyi. — Photo by Reuters

YANGON: Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi registered Wednesday to run for a seat in parliament in April 1 by-elections, in the latest sign of change in the military-dominated country.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who was released from years of house arrest in late 2010, submitted her registration form to election authorities to stand in a constituency near the main city of Yangon, according to an AFP photographer.

The 66-year-old's National League for Democracy (NLD) party has already been given approval to return to the official political arena, against a backdrop of budding reforms under the country's nominally civilian government.

The NLD was stripped of its status as a legal political party in 2010 after it chose to boycott a controversial national election held in November of that year, saying the rules were unfair.

The 2010 vote, in which the military's allies claimed an overwhelming victory, was marred by complaints of cheating and criticised by Western nations which enforce sanctions against the regime.

A quarter of parliament's seats are taken up by unelected military officials while the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which is packed with former military men, holds about 80 percent of the remainder.

Suu Kyi was released a few days after the 2010 poll, having spent much of the past two decades in detention.

Since coming to power in March, the new military-backed government dominated by former generals has made a series of reformist moves in an apparent attempt to reach out to political opponents and the West.

These included releasing hundreds of political prisoners, holding dialogue with the opposition, suspending construction of an unpopular mega-dam and pursuing peace deals with armed ethnic minority rebels.

The NLD won an election in 1990 by a landslide, while Suu Kyi remained under house arrest, but the ruling generals never allowed the party to take power.

A total of 48 seats are up for grabs in the April vote — not enough to threaten the resounding majority held by the ruling party.

The polls are to fill places vacated by those elected in the 2010 polls who have since become ministers and deputy ministers in the government.


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