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Myanmar eases limits on party membership

 Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, right, talks with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner, le...

Myanmar Suu Kyi

Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, right, talks with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner, le...

Myanmar's president signed a revised law on political parties on Friday in an apparent attempt to encourage Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy to accept the political system and reregister as a party.
President Thein Sein signed the amendments to the Political Party Registration Law as senior U.S. diplomats were ending a visit to encourage his government to push forward with democratic reforms.
If the National League for Democracy reregisters as a legal party, it could join upcoming but still unscheduled by-elections which would be the first electoral test of its popularity in more than two decades.
Bringing Suu Kyi's party back into the fold would also give the government greater legitimacy at home and abroad.
The group was delisted as a political party last year after it refused to register for November 2010 elections, saying they were being held under undemocratic conditions.
The amendments of the party law signed by Thein Sein on Friday alter three areas of the party law to accommodate Suu Kyi and her party.
The law, originally enacted in March last year by the previous military junta, prohibited anyone who has been convicted of a crime from being a member of a political party. Suu Kyi had been convicted on a trumped-up charge, and would have had to leave the party she helped found. The clause has now been dropped, clearing the way for former political prisoners to engage in politics.
Another article was amended to say that registered parties shall "respect and abide" by the constitution rather than "safeguard" it. The change was evidently made to accommodate criticisms of the charter by Suu Kyi's group without making them illegal.
A third change says parties need to run only a minimum of three candidates in by-elections, making it easier for smaller parties to participate.
"Now that the law has been passed, we will hold a meeting to decide whether or not we will register," the spokesman of Suu Kyi's group, Nyan Win, told The Associated Press. Nyan Win said the amendments were in line with the group's wishes.
The junta that ruled Myanmar until handing over power to the current elected military-backed government in March this year enacted a constitution and other laws with provisions aimed at limiting Suu Kyi's political activities, fearing her influence. Her party overwhelming won a 1990 general election, but the army refused to had over power, instead repressing Suu Kyi and other democracy activists.
The U.S. and other Western countries imposed political and economic sanctions against the junta for its failure to hand over power and its poor human rights record.


Updated : 2021-07-28 12:53 GMT+08:00