Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi said Wednesday she would run in upcoming parliamentary elections after her National League for Democracy (NLD) is re-registered as a political party.
"I hope to run for parliament," Suu Kyi said in a videoconference from Myanmar, where she was set to meet Thursday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a historic visit aimed at encouraging Myanmar's political reforms.
"We are waiting to hear whether our party's application for registration has been accepted. And once that is accepted we can start making plans to contest the by-elections," she told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations.
The NLD announced this month it would re-register as a political party and contest by-elections after boycotting last year's parliamentary poll.
There are 48 parliamentary seats available but no polling dates have been set for by-elections.
"We hope that by having some of our people in parliament we will be able to do twice the work that we have been doing because we'll have extra-parliamentary activity as well as activities in parliament," she said.
She said the party will push for ceasefires in the country's ethnic conflicts as well as press for the rule of law to be established and for the remaining political prisoners to be released after scores were freed.
She put the rule of law as among the highest priorities because activists can be returned to be prison once they are released.
Suu Kyi was even clearer about her intentions during a later question-and-answer session with the members of the audience when she said "I will certainly run for elections when they take place."
The NLD's decision to end its boycott of the political process came on the same day the military-dominated government received a dramatic seal of approval from the United States for a string of nascent reforms.
After speaking directly to Nobel laureate Suu Kyi for the first time, in a call from Air Force One, US President Barack Obama said Clinton would become the first secretary of state to visit Myanmar for 50 years.
The NLD won a landslide victory in polls in 1990 but the then-ruling junta never allowed the party to take power. Suu Kyi, although a figurehead for the campaign, was under house arrest at the time.
Myanmar's next election was not held until November last year, and the NLD boycotted it -- mainly because of rules that would have forced it to expel imprisoned members. Suu Kyi was again under house arrest.
Although the election was widely criticized as a sham, Myanmar's military rulers gave way to a nominally civilian administration which released Suu Kyi from years in detention and has since made a surprising series of conciliatory gestures.
Suu Kyi said she hopes that Clinton's visit will encourage the military-backed government to pursue reforms.
"I've always believed in cautious optimism," she said when asked for her assessment of the political changes underway.
"We have to be prepared to take risks," she said. "We have got to make the best of the opportunities that have arisen over the last few months."© ANP/AFP