Myanmar dissident Suu Kyi to run for parliament in by-elections

Monday, November 21, 2011

Suu Kyi
Image: World Economic Forum.

Myanmar political dissident Aung San Suu Kyi will run for a seat in parliament in upcoming by-elections, National League for Democracy (NLD) senior official Nyan Win announced today. The NLD decided Friday to participate in the by-elections, but Suu Kyi did not say directly then that she would run.

The by-elections include 48 seats in Parliament, all of which the NLD intends to contest. Dates for the elections have not yet been set.

Suu Kyi was released from house arrest last year. She had stated she would only accept an unconditional release, not a release on conditions. On Friday, in advocating participation in the upcoming by-elections, she remarked, "Some people are worried that taking part could harm my dignity. Frankly, if you do politics, you should not be thinking about your dignity."

The military junta of Myanmar held elections last November, which NLD boycotted since many dissidents — including Suu Kyi — were not allowed to run. The junta responded by legally revoking the NLD's status as a political party. The NLD voted Friday to re-register as a party.

Last year's election was the first since 1990, when the NLD won a landslide that the military junta refused to acknowledge. A year later, Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Various parties have acknowledged recent signs of political reform in Myanmar, such as the relaxing of the law that had prevented Suu Kyi and many other political dissidents from participating in elections last year. Suu Kyi in a speech last Monday was cautiously positive about recent developments. US President Obama announced Friday that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Myanmar in December, an unprecedented move since the military coup in Myanmar in 1962. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) at its recent summit decided to allow Myanmar to hold ASEAN's rotating chair in 2014.