Burma democracy party registers for elections

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi formally registers her party for any upcoming elections in Burma, returning the Nobel laureate to the political arena.

Aung Suu Kyi formally rejoins politics in military-dominated country

Burma's pro-Democracy Party, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, rejoins politics and registers for future elections. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi formally registered her party Friday for any upcoming elections in Burma, returning the Nobel laureate to the political arena.

Suu Kyi decided last month to formally rejoin politics in the military-dominated country, also known as Myanmar, after recent reforms by the nominally civilian administration that took power this year. Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy leader Tin Oo and other party members registered the party at the Union Election Commission in the capital, Naypyitaw.

The party boycotted last year's general elections because of restrictive rules that among other things prevented Suu Kyi from being a candidate. The government has since lifted many of those restrictions.

The government had disqualified the NLD for boycotting the election.

NLD spokesman Nyan Win said the party will contest all vacant seats in an upcoming byelection and Suu Kyi will soon announce in which constituency she will run.

No date has been set for that election, but last week election commission chairman Tin Aye said the government will announce it three months before the by-election, giving candidates time to campaign.

Allowing Suu Kyi's party back into the political fold will likely give the government greater legitimacy at home and abroad. It has already won cautious praise from international observers and critics including the United States, for introducing reforms.

During her visit to Burma early this month U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she wants to ensure that future elections are "free, fair and credible in the eyes of the people."

The polls in November 2010 were the first in the country, known to some as Myanmar, since the NLD overwhelmingly won a general election in 1990. The military junta at that time refused to honor the results.

The regime kept Suu Kyi under house arrest during different periods for a total of 15 years. She was released just after last year's elections and is now free to move about and meet people.

The government continues to hold hundreds of other political prisoners and Suu Kyi has said the NLD will continue to work for their release.