YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar has set a date of April 1, 2012, for by-elections that could see pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi enter parliament, although the military’s grip on the assembly will not be threatened.
State television announced the date late Friday.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) refused to take part in elections in November 2010, disagreeing with the electoral process set in place by the former military leaders.
But, after a series of reforms initiated by the new, nominally civilian government this year, the NLD has agreed to register as a political party and now wants a voice in parliament.
NLD official Nyan Win said the Election Commission had not yet finished processing the application and its candidates would only be announced officially once that was done.
But he said Nobel peace laureate Suu Kii, 66, was expected to run for the lower house in the constituency of Kawhmu, about 30 km (20 miles) south of the main city, Yangon, where she lives.
A quarter of the seats in parliament are reserved for the military and a party close to the military won a huge majority of the contested seats in the 2010 election.
Election Commission Chairman Tin Aye told Aung San Suu Kyi recently at a meeting in the capital, Naypyitaw, that the commission would do its best to ensure a free and fair vote in the upcoming by-elections.
At least 48 seats will be contested in April -- 40 in the lower house, six in the upper house and two in regional parliaments. These are mainly for seats vacated by lawmakers who became ministers.
The government has also recently reached agreements with some armed ethnic groups to hold elections in the areas they control.
Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by Paul Tait