A high-ranking Burmese official has taken the rare step of acknowledging the 1990 election victory by Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which was prevented from taking power at the time by the ruling military junta.
“I recognize the result of the 1990 election, which the NLD won with a vast majority of the votes,” Burma's parliament chief Khin Aung Myint told the Yangon Times in an interview.
“The results cannot be reversed and I have no intention to do so,” said the former director of public relations and psychological warfare in the Ministry of Defense, according to a report this week.
Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD had swept parliamentary elections in 1990, winning 392 out of 492 contested seats, only to be denied power by the army.
The military regime then placed Suu Kyi, daughter of Burmese independence hero General Aung San, under house arrest in Rangoon for most of the time until shortly after the government held historic elections in November last year.
The latest elections officially ended more than two decades of hard-line military rule but were denounced by rights groups and many western governments as a sham.
The NLD was ordered to dissolve as a political party after it refused to participate in the last elections, complaining the rules were unfair. The party's appeal against the decision was rejected by the courts.
But Burma’s new nominally civilian government, led by President Thein Sein, has embarked on a series of reforms since taking power in March this year, including calling for peace with ethnic minority groups, easing media controls, and releasing hundreds of political prisoners.
Thein Sein signed a revised law on political parties on Friday in an apparent bid to encourage the NLD to accept the political system and reregister as a party.
Khin Aung Myint told the Yangon Times that he and parliamentary members would “welcome a reregistration by the NLD,” adding that “Aung San Suu Kyi will be in the parliament if the people choose.”
He praised the pro-democracy leader’s education and international experience, saying she would be “great asset in the national reconciliation process.”
If Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD 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.
An NLD party spokesman said last week that Aung San Suu Kyi may stand for parliament in by-elections later this year if her party reregisters itself, Reuters news agency reported.
"I think she will and I personally want her to," NLD spokesman Nyan Win said.
The 66-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi had said a month ago that she would have to get the approval of her party's central executive committee on any participation in elections if the registration law was amended.
Reported by RFA’s Burmese service. Translated by Khin May Zaw. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.