Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will run in a parliamentary by-election expected by the end of the year, a top party official said on Monday, giving legitimacy to moves towards democracy after decades of military rule.
It will be the first time the Nobel Peace Prize laureate contests a seat herself, having not stood as a candidate in her National League for Democracy (NLD) 1990 election landslide, which was ignored by the then military regime and led to her lengthy incarceration.
“Suu Kyi intends to stand for the by-election but it’s a bit early to say from which constituency she will run,” Nyan Win, a member of the NLD’s executive committee said. There are 48 seats available in Myanmar’s new senate and lower house.
The NLD was dissolved by the military junta for refusing to take part in last year’s polls because of “unfair and unjust” laws that would have prevented hundreds of its members from becoming lawmakers.
But the party voted unanimously on Friday to re-enter the political fray following an amendment to the Constitution allowing those who have served sentences for crimes to take part in elections. Many NLD members, including Suu Kyi, are current or former political prisoners.
Suu Kyi is the daughter of late independence hero Aung San who was a staunch opponent of the military during its 49 years of totalitarian rule,
She had earlier given no indication she was interested in becoming a lawmaker but has always referred to herself as a politician. Her decision comes after Myanmar won a powerful endorsement on Friday with US President Barack Obama announcing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would visit the resource-rich country next month.
For sanctions to be eased Clinton said the release of more political prisoners and a peace deal with ethnic minorities would be necessary. Suu Kyi and NLD would pursue these issues aggressively in parliament.