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article imageAung San Suu Kyi testing democratic space in Myanmar

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By Leo Reyes     Aug 13, 2011 in Politics
Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to make her first political appearance Sunday outside of Myanmar's capital city of Yangon.
Suu Kyi has been released from detention late last year after spending time under house arrest for 15 of the last 21 years for her democratic advocacy in the impoverished Asian nation.
Her meeting with supporters in two towns north of Yangon is seen as a test for democratic space in the new government of Myanmar which was formed following a national election for members of parliament in November.
Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) has been ruled by a military junta for decades. The country is now ruled by civilian leaders most of them were former members of the military junta.
Suu Kyi, who has just traveled to the countryside to touch base with her constituents almost a year after her release from house arrest, has called on the government for constant dialogue.
During her visit, Suu Kyi refrained from issuing political statements in order not to antagonize the government.
Western sanctions are still in effect which ban among others, imports from Myanmar and restriction of visas for government officials.
Suu Kyi has said that current sanctions should be maintained until the more that 2000 political prisoners languishing in jails for years are released.
Suu Kyi is the head of the banned National League for Democracy (NLD), a political party that won the 1990 national elections. Despite her landslide victory, the junta did not allow her to take power by putting her under house arrest for more than 20 years.
The lady Nobel Peace Prize laureate could have been Myanmar's first democratic head of state but the military junta never allowed her to take power.
Her Party was banned by the government from taking part in last year's elections on grounds that it is not a registered political party as required by newly-promulgated election laws.
Suu Kyi's future in politics remains uncertain as most of the ranking members of the ruling junta have been elected to the parliament.
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