Suu Kyi's NLD democracy party to rejoin Burma politics


Karishma Vaswani says leaders at the Asean summit have welcomed signs of progress in Burma

The party of Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has agreed to re-enter the political process and contest parliamentary elections.

On Friday her National League for Democracy said it would register to run in the as yet unscheduled by-elections.

The party boycotted the last polls in November 2010, the first in 20 years.

Meanwhile the US is to send Hillary Clinton to Burma next month, amid what President Barack Obama called "flickers of progress" in the nation.

Mr Obama spoke to Aung San Suu Kyi before deciding to send Mrs Clinton, who will be the first US secretary of state to visit in 50 years.

BBC South East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey says the developments are being seen as endorsements of the steps taken by the military-backed but civilian-led government towards political reform.

'Unanimous decision'

The announcement followed a meeting of 100 senior NLD leaders in Rangoon.


Burma's NLD have decided to re-register as a party, although all of their disagreements with the government have not been resolved.

They have also agreed to put up candidates in all 48 seats up for by-election early next year, and Aung San Suu Kyi is likely to be among them.

Obstacles to them rejoining the political process had included the continued holding of political prisoners, government demands that any candidate should back the 2008 constitution, and the government's refusal to admit that the 1990 election was stolen from the NLD.

They have seen some movement in all three areas - and are assured by a promise made to Aung San Suu Kyi by reformist President Thein Sein that all political prisoners will be released soon.

They are also encouraged by a recent article in a state newspaper by the Parliamentary Speaker Shwe Mann "recognising" the victory of the NLD in the 1990 election.

"We unanimously decide that the National League for Democracy (NLD) will register according to party registration laws, and we will take part in the coming by-elections," a party statement said.

It boycotted the previous polls because of election laws that banned Aung San Suu Kyi - a former political prisoner - from running.

But this regulation has since been dropped, and Aung San Suu Kyi said she now wanted the party to contest all 48 seats left vacant in parliament by the appointment of ministers.

A spokesman for the NLD said it was likely that Aung San Suu Kyi would run for office. And the pro-democracy leader herself said she would do what she thought was necessary.

"If I think I should take part in the election, I will. Some people are worried that taking part could harm my dignity. Frankly, if you do politics, you should not be thinking about your dignity," AFP news agency quoted her as saying.

"I stand for the re-registration of the NLD party. I would like to work effectively towards amending the constitution. So we have to do what we need to do."

The NLD won elections in 1990 but was never allowed to take power. Aung San Suu Kyi spent years under house arrest but was freed a year ago by the new government.

Since then it has entered into dialogue with her and freed some - but by no means all - political prisoners.

Aung San Suu Kyi has given a cautious welcome to the moves, but says more progress is needed.

'Concrete action'


  • 7 Nov 2010: First polls in 20 years
  • 13 Nov: Aung San Suu Kyi freed from house arrest
  • 30 Mar 2011: Transfer of power to new government complete
  • 14 Aug: Aung San Suu Kyi allowed to leave Rangoon on political visit
  • 19 Aug: Aung San Suu Kyi meets Burmese President Thein Sein
  • 6 Oct: Human rights commission established
  • 12 Oct: More than 200 political prisoners freed
  • 13 Oct: New labour laws allowing unions passed
  • 17 Nov: Burma granted Asean chair in 2014

Mr Obama echoed her view in comments at a regional summit in Bali.

"Last night, I spoke to Aung San Suu Kyi directly and confirmed she supports American engagement to move this process forward," he said.

During her visit, Mrs Clinton would "explore whether the United States can empower a positive transition in Burma", he said.

"That possibility will depend on the Burmese government taking more concrete action. If Burma fails to move down the path of reform it will continue to face sanctions and isolation," he said.

The US maintains economic sanctions and travel bans against members of the former junta.

The announcement came a day after leaders of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) agreed that Burma could chair the regional bloc in 2014.

Burma was passed over for its turn at the rotating presidency last time because of its human rights record.

But Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said member states believed Burma had made significant progress towards democracy.


More on This Story

Burma's Transition


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  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Suu Kyi, who has survived a longer detention than Nelson Mandela, deserves all the luck in the world for a successful political comeback. And no one deserves this more than the people of Burma. Let us hope and pray the new dawn is not slow in coming.
    Vernon Ram, Hong Kong

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    The first cracks are appearing in the Burmese Junta's armour. If the NLD win a majority of seats in the by-elections, then the clamour for real democracy will accelerate. The junta may think that by controlling the army they will be safe. A chap called Gaddafi thought that as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    All in all, maybe - just maybe, this IS the beginning of the irreversible positive change that the whole country has been looking forward to. We've been disappointed too often in the past with lame gestures, but it seems like some unbelievable changes in basic attitudes have really come about. Then again, we need to wait and watch what ensues in 2012.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    the military in Burma are to be commended for allowing this small measure and encouraged to allow the country to become more democratic. true democracy doesnt exist tho. In every "democratic" country, the loudest, best organised and best funded voices get heard. That doesnt mean we should abandon democracy. Instead we should all demand more and better democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    I am happy about the reforms, but will remain cautious. I am esp wary of the Chinese. Will they throw a spanner in the works if they feel that a truly democratic Burma is not in their best interests? And the unprincipled leaders of India (my country) must be worrying about how a democratic Burma will treat them, since they had rolled out the red carpet for the military rulers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Good luck to Aung San Suu Kyi, she has shown great courage, love and hope for her country folk..........lets all stand with her from nations around the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    The world is becoming smaller, what happens in Burma is important to the west and the world in general We need a reliable news agency which can inform people as to what is happening in Burma. It is, perhaps time for the creation of a British News Programme which produces objective and factual news concerning overseas political matters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Why the headlong rush to "democracy"?

    Robert Mugabe is democratically elected.

    Saddam Hussein was democratically elected.

    No-one in Britain holds any mandate to govern.

    Sri Lanka is democratic.

    So what does democracy give anyone that they don't already have?

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I am glad that President Obama is sending Secretary Clinton to Burma only after consultation with Ms Suu Kiy. Having the US Secretary of State visit is a huge political coup for the Burmese government, and that the visit comes only with the explicit approval of Ms Suu Kyi sends a powerful message.

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Whoopy Doo! Couldn't care less - and by the looks of things neither could anybody else!

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Fantastic news! Good luck to Suu Kyi in the elections. She is an inspirational leader with a refreshing magnanimous outlook. Let's hope the government respect the ballot this time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Thanks to all who have enlightened me on the Burma v Myanmar issue. Please accept my apology Auntie Beeb for calling you colonial.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Progress at last! This is encouraging, but it is down to all ethnic communities in Burma to feel a greater confidence in taking decisions for themselves. There is much left to do, not least a cesation of village clearances in eastern Burma, & the release of many political prisoners. A federal government would best serve the many different minority groups throughout Burma, not just the elite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    You can bet your life that if Aung San Suu Kyi looks like getting power in any forthcoming elections, some trumped up coruption charge (or similar) will be levelled against her so she can be arrested again and not stand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    I know China, Russia & India consider themselves significant world powers, but until they start getting involved in World Politics there's a limit to how seriously the world will take them.
    you can't become a Global superpower by hoarding Gold, and winning a few medals at the Olympics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    This realy is fantastic news . Great to hear that Su Su Nway has been freed. Her story should taught in British schools so that pupils can see what a real "girl with courage" can do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    28.sagat4 - are you referring to Bumra's current Govt or ours...

    if it's ours a u-turn is highly likely...??!

    But seriously, here's hoping this one small step leads to many, much bigger, ones for all the people of Burma

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    As long as the junta does not make a u-turn then it's all good

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    What happens to National League's for Democracy and Movement's for Democratic Change once democracy is in place? I'm always weary of politicians that cite such aims, in effect a one-policy party, because how many people willingly relinquish power once they've obtained it? I'm not sure if democracy is some of these places is just a trojan horse for pure power - as we've seen in Africa plenty times!

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    It is always in the best interests of totalitarian states to have regime run buffer zones along their frontiers. Chinese CCP has several. North Korea, Burma, Tibet, East Turkestan, Mongolia. It is to slow the enemy down in case of invasion. CCP is one of the last old style regimes to still behave like this.


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