Myanmar authorities on Tuesday gave Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party the green light to rejoin mainstream politics, paving the way for the Nobel laureate to run for a seat in the new parliament. The announcement in state media follows a series of reformist moves by a new military-backed government dominated by former generals, who are now reaching out to political opponents and the West. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) was stripped of its status as a legal political party by the junta last year after it chose to boycott a rare election, saying the rules were unfair. A brief announcement in the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Tuesday said that the country's election commission had approved the NLD's application to re-register as a political party. The country formerly known as Burma has surprised even its critics over the past year -- releasing democracy champion Suu Kyi from years of house arrest, holding dialogue with the opposition and freeing some political prisoners. In one of a number of dramatic developments, Suu Kyi has said she will take part in by-elections expected early next year, although no date has been set. She voiced guarded hope earlier this month that democracy would come to Myanmar, as she welcomed Hillary Clinton to the home that was her prison for years during a landmark visit by the US Secretary of State. "I am very confident that if we work together... there will be no turning back from the road to democracy," Suu Kyi said at the time. On Monday her party said it had chosen the image of a fighting peacock gazing at a white star as its new symbol, replacing its trademark bamboo hat, which was used by a breakaway group that participated in the 2010 election. Suu Kyi's party won a 1990 poll but was never allowed by the generals to take power. It refused to participate in the November 2010 vote -- the first in two decades -- mainly because of rules that would have forced it to expel imprisoned members. Suu Kyi, who has spent most of the past two decades in detention, was under house arrest at the time and was released just days after the polls. An amendment to a law on political parties has since removed the contentious clause that said prisoners could not be party members, as well as a condition that all parties must agree to "preserve" a controversial 2008 constitution. An NLD spokesman said Suu Kyi was likely to travel to the capital Naypyidaw herself to complete the party registration process. Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa hailed the authorities' announcement as "another important development" in the reform process. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, now chaired by Indonesia, announced during its Bali summit last month that it had allowed Myanmar to chair the bloc in 2014 as a reward for reforms it has made over the past year. As part of its budding reforms, the regime has also reached out to ethnic guerrillas, following decades of civil war in parts of the country. On Monday the office of President Thein Sein said the former junta general had ordered the military to cease attacks against ethnic Kachin rebels in the north of the country where fighting has raged since June. Authorities recently held peace talks with Myanmar's main armed ethnic groups, including the Kachin rebels, and this month signed a preliminary ceasefire agreement with one major militia, the Shan State Army South. In a rare response to public opposition, the president in September suspended construction of a controversial mega-dam in Kachin state.
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