Suu Kyi’s Party Wins Easing of By-Election Restrictions

Posted February 20th, 2012 at 11:00 am (UTC-5)
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Burma's most prominent opposition party says the government has eased some restrictions on political organizing after the party complained that the fairness of upcoming by-elections was at risk.

A spokesman for the National League for Democracy told VOA's Burmese service that the restrictions were lifted Monday, hours after the party held a news conference to voice its concerns.

NLD candidates, including party leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi, are running in April 1 elections to fill 48 vacant seats in parliament. It will be the first test of the party's electoral power since 1990, when it won a landslide victory but was prevented from taking power by a military government.

NLD campaign manager Nyan Win said at the news conference that the party had been prevented from holding election rallies at football stadiums in three constituencies and had cited security concerns to stop it from organizing in a village in restive Kachin state.

“We are facing many dangers to have free and fair elections. In the present situation – it is hard to have free and fair elections, I believe.''

He said the restrictions were a threat to free and fair elections.

The NLD, complaining of unfair voting rules, boycotted landmark elections in 2010 which brought to power a new government led by allies of the former military junta. But Nyan Win said the NLD is committed to going ahead with the April 1 polls.

“This will be really unfortunate for us, but we already decided to take part in the upcoming elections. So even if the situation is like this, and it remains this way, we will try. We will be elected.''

The party decided to participate in the by-elections following a series of government reforms, including the easing of restrictions on the media and the release of hundreds of political prisoners.

Several Western governments are deciding whether to lift stiff economic sanctions on Burma and say the conduct of the elections will be a factor in that decision.