Burma Approves Suu Kyi’s Opposition Party For Elections

Posted January 5th, 2012 at 8:05 am (UTC-5)
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Burmese opposition leaders say the government has approved Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party to run in by-elections due in April.

NLD party spokesman Nyan Win says the decision was effective Thursday. He says the party will begin taking applications for people to join the party on Monday. It was not immediately clear whether Suu Kyi would compete in the April 1 poll.

The announcement comes as British Foreign Secretary William Hague visits Burma for two days of talks with government leaders to urge them to continue on the path of reform. He is expected to meet with Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon on Friday.

Hague says he will gauge what more Britain can do to support reform efforts in Burma. It is the first visit by a British foreign secretary to Burma in more than 50 years.

Hague's visit follows that of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who in November pledged U.S. support for Burma, if more political prisoners are released and ethnic groups are included in the political process.

Burma's highly anticipated April by-election will return Aung San Suu Kyi's party to mainstream politics after two decades. They are intended to fill places vacated by those elected in a November 2010 vote who have since become ministers in the government. But the number of seats available is not enough to threaten the resounding majority held by the ruling military-backed party.

In Burma's 1991, the then-ruling military government refused to accept the opposition National League for Democracy party's national election victory.

The NLD boycotted general elections in 2010 because of restrictions that, among other things, would have prevented Suu Kyi from running. That vote installed a nominally civilian government that has eased restrictions on politics and other matters.