Suu Kyi's party approved in Myanmar

5th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

Democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi's party registration was officially approved by authorities in Myanmar on Thursday, the final hurdle to enable it to take part in upcoming by-elections.

"Our party was allowed as a political party," said National League for Democracy (NLD) spokesman Nyan Win, who said the decision was effective on Thursday.

"Now we have got the chance to officially participate in the democratic process," he told AFP.

Suu Kyi, who has already vowed to take part in the upcoming vote, said Thursday she expected "full democratic elections" within her lifetime, in a BBC interview ahead of a meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

But the opposition leader told the broadcaster she did not know when she would have a chance to stand for president in Myanmar, or whether she would do so.

The NLD was stripped of its status as a legal political party by the junta last year after it chose to boycott controversial polls in 2010.

But relations between the new nominally civilian government and the opposition have seen a significant thaw in recent months, with high-profile dialogue between former generals, including the president, and Suu Kyi.

Nyan Win said the NLD would begin taking applications for people to join the party on Monday.

Those who wish to take part in the by-elections will need to register between January 16 and 31, according to a Union Election Commission announcement.

A total of 48 seats are up for grabs -- 40 in the lower house, six in the upper house and two in regional assemblies.

The by-elections are to fill places vacated by those elected in the November 2010 vote who have since become ministers and deputy 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.

One quarter of parliament's seats are taken up by the army, while the Union Solidarity and Development Party, which is packed with former military men, holds about 80 percent of the remainder.

© 2012 AFP

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