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 65.

    It is good that change looks to be happening, and that the US is sending Ms Clinton to formally visit. It is especially good that Aung San Suu Kyi has been released and is being urged to run. That said, there are still many many political prisoners within Burma. Until there are no political prisoners, and until opposition parties are urged to run everywhere, then caution should prevail.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    46. Eddy from Waring
    I bet her old neighbours are sorry she's out now. They'll have to find someone else with whom to have parcels left.
    Cynical and droll but equally very funny, tee, hee, hee!

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    Good for them but also very scary. I applaud a very brave people. I hope Clinton can use softer diplomatic language than she normally does or all she will do is exacerbate the situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    This iis what soft US power looks like. I'm sure that the anti-American crowd will do their best to twist this in some way that makes the US look bad, that is their raison d'ĂȘtre after all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Why 'apparently' - is there some agency monitoring everything people write? :-P

    @16.The Rockabilly Red & 36.nieuw divil
    Some people care what happens outside their countries. If you don't, then save both your time & ours by not reading this article to post inane comments :-)

    Umm...what's smoking in cars got to do with Burmese politics?

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Maybe it would be better for Aung NOT to win the FIRST held election-it might prompt a strong counter reaction from the junta. But the very fact to have a sizeable representation in Parliament would be a further step forward

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I am sceptical of this change around by the Burmese leadership.
    It is widely regarded that the Burmese authorities and North Korea have (are) conspiring in a nuclear program which will result in Burma becoming a power capable of a nuclear strike.
    I believe the generals are diverting media attention away from their main military program.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    It is good that Burmese have merged up at last after more than 2 decades for the betterment of the country....hope that reconciliation between the Burmese should also bring forth reconciliation with other ethnic people...not fighting...not killings, not human rights abuses, not torturing, not marginalization, not discrimination, not burning down villages including Churches....

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    We are witnessing history being made in Burma. people are positive that the latest strings of reforms are unlike the scams and for some real change in the country. I hope our reselience and patience for more than half a century will finally pay off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    After all the deaths during the Arab spring,this would be wonderful news which world politicians should encourage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    36. nieuw divil

    What a pitiful excuse for humanity, why don't you take up juggling...... with live, angry scorpions for example?

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    She is truly an inspiration. A lesson to the politicians of the UK and the wider western world. Stick to your principles and beliefs if you have any, politics is about change for the better for everyone and not simply a means to enrich oneself at the expense of individual integrity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" - some people never learn anything. The Burmese generals will never allow her party to run the country. They don't trust her, someone with an Oxford education, married to a Caucasian, etc. It doesn't matter if she's daughter of Aung Sann. It ain't gonna work. To America, fix your problems first: 'war on terror', economy...

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Hillary should visit Burma. They did not support the war in Vietnam during the 1960s. Trade is an important topic throughout that region of the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    As a Burmese citizen, I am very happy that my country is finally moving forward. There still is a long way, but again Rome wasn't built in a day. There are some exile groups who want to keep our country in misery as long as possible for their own personal gains (like grants, funds, etc..) But at least west is wise enough to listen to the our people carefully but not falling for those evil exiles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    After a long and painful struggle for democracy it seems the greenery is shooting up in Burma. The credit for this goes to this Nobelist lady Aung San Suu Kyi. Nelson Mandela and this lady are the two living legends of our times. They have proved that peaceful process is long and painful but the results are pleasant for the common citizens. 'Sacrifice' is the key here. Let us wait a bit more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    In Burma the application of democracy is almost absent because the wrong ones who are manipulated by the one with the gun around his neck constitute the majority. Hence, for Syu Kyi to make an impact in the coming election is very doubtful. And, the visit of Hillary Clinton can be viewed by China as a counter-sign and will hardly benifit those who aspire democracy in Burma.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Its early days & one should remain cautious. While Burma will definitely need support from international community to establish its democratic institutions, restructure its trade policies, & strengthen its educational institutions & health care policies, the country should be cautious of regional & international powers exploiting the country's wealth as we have seen in many countries in the past.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Indeed a bold step by Obama administration. I hope US will be more engaged in Burma and can deal with China and India (in their dealings with military junta) more effectively to bring peace and democracy there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I bet her old neighbours are sorry she's out now. They'll have to find someone else with whom to have parcels left.


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