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Suu Kyi's party to register as legal body so it can participate in elections
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) ' Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party has decided to register legally so that it can take part in future elections.
The decision signals its confidence in recent political reforms by the military-aligned government that took power after the country's military rulers upheld their promise to hold elections in November 2010 and relinquish power.
The NLD refused to register last year because of a restriction that would have prevented Suu Kyi from running in the polls. The restriction was lifted this year.
Senior members of the National League for Democracy met at party headquarters Friday and agreed it was time to re-enter national politics.
A statement said the "NLD has unanimiously decided to re-register as a political party ... and will run in the elections."
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) ' Myanmar's opposition party led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi met Friday to decide whether to register for future elections, which would signal its confidence in recent reforms by the military-aligned government.
A total of 103 central committee members of the National League for Democracy met at party headquarters in Yangon to discuss the proposal, which will likely be approved now that the government has lifted rules barring Suu Kyi from being a candidate.
"I have no objection to party's re-registration because portions of the party registration law that we had strongly objected were removed and reworded," Win Tin, 82, a prominent journalist and a co-founder of the party, told The Associated Press.
The decision is expected later Friday.
The NLD refused to register the party last year mainly because of an election law that required political parties to expel members who were incarcerated. The clause appeared targeted at Suu Kyi, who was then under house arrest by the military regime. The NLD subsequently boycotted the November 2010 elections, which were called by the junta as part of its promise to introduce democracy.
A nominally civilian government aligned to the military won the elections and took power earlier this year. It has won limited praise for instituting some political reforms, including dropping the clause that kept Suu Kyi out of the political arena.
The reforms have led to the United States to soften its position on Myanmar after shunning it for decades. President Barack Obama announced Friday that he would send Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Myanmar next month.
She would be the first U.S. foreign minister to visit Myanmar in more than 50 years.
"The NLD has to re-register if the party wants to join the political arena. The political climate has changed compared to 2010 and we have to make a practical decision," said Aung Myo, an NLD member from Sagaing region.
If the NLD registers as a legal party, it could join upcoming but still unscheduled by-elections that would be the first electoral test of its popularity ' and that of Suu Kyi ' in more than two decades. It is likely that Suu Kyi also would run.
Bringing Suu Kyi's party back into the fold would give the government greater legitimacy at home and abroad.
The NLD overwhelmingly won a 1990 general election, but the ruling junta refused to honor the results. Suu Kyi has said that the 1990 election results was officially declared in the government gazette and is "an historic result."