Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will run for a seat in Parliament, her party confirmed on Tuesday, a move that will infuse April by-elections with historical significance.
Nobel laureate Suu Kyi will run in a college on the outskirts of Rangoon. She will seek one of 48 seats that became vacant after a parliamentary election in November 2010, mostly when members were appointed to cabinet positions.
Her predictable victory would give the longtime political prisoner a voice in the military-controlled Parliament, while Ms Suu Kyi's political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), will enter the new institutional structure for the first time.
After the elections, democracy champion Suu Kyi may be given a post in Myanmar’s nominally civilian government. This would be one more historical turning point for the Asian troubled country.
Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, daughter of Burmese independence hero Aung San, was under house arrest during November 2010 elections, which were boycotted by her her political party. The elections, Myanmar's first in 20 years, replaced a military junta with a nominally civilian government that remains strongly controlled by the military but has taken steps toward easing repression and proceeding toward broader forms of pluralism.
Western countries have taken tentative steps to improve relations with Myanmar. In November, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first high ranking American official to visit the Southeast Asian country in more than 50 years. On Monday, Australia became the first country to ease sanctions against Myanmar's ruling elite as "an acknowledgment that Burma is taking a number of important steps toward a more open democracy and greater engagement with the region."
In Myanmar, between 500 and 2,000 political prisoners remain locked in jail. The army continues bloody operations against ethnic groups in the eastern and north-eastern borders. Censorship, though somewhat eased, remains heavy. Political life and the economy are dominated directly and indirectly by the ruling regime.