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January 17, 2012

Suu Kyi Files Papers to Run for Burmese Parliament

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is formally a candidate to run for a parliamentary seat in an upcoming by-election.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner registered her candidacy Wednesday to represent a district just outside the main city of Rangoon. She and her National League for Democracy party will contest the 48 parliamentary seats that are open in the April 1 vote.  

Suu Kyi's decision to run for parliament is the latest evidence of democratic reforms since a new, nominally civilian government took power from a decades-long military junta last March, including the release of hundreds of political prisoners.

But even if the NLD wins all 48 seats in the by-election, it will not be enough to blunt the majority of the military-backed ruling party.

Khin Ohmar, the coordinator for the democracy and human rights group Burma Partnership, said that if elected, Suu Kyi will seek to reform the 2008 constitution, which maintains the military's rule over the country. She says 25 percent of Burma's legislative seats are held by military officers.

The National League for Democracy won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in 1990, while Suu Kyi was under house arrest, but Burma's then-military rulers barred it from taking power.

The party boycotted the 2010 elections, claiming the rules were unfair.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.