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Aung San Suu Kyi | From prisoner to politician

Anna-Belle Woollcott
By Anna-Belle Woollcott Published on 7 March 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi, the celebrated Burmese opposition politician who was placed under house arrest for trying to introduce democracy to Burma, is making another bid to become an elected official.

Since her release from house arrest on the 13th November 2010, the 66-year-old opposition leader has once again begun campaigning for change in Burma (now officially called the Republic of the Union of Myanmar).

Her image was once banned but now dominates the country with, according to The Associated Press, illegal copies of the Hollywood version of her life on the top of the DVD best sellers list and calendars baring her photo outselling those depicting Buddha - the nation's foremost religious icon.

The vote takes place on 1st of April 2012 and if Suu Kyi wins her seat she will become a junior and minority member of parliament.

The position does not hold any great power and the affect of a successful bid by Suu Kyi would not result in any major changes.

However Suu Kyi herself would be the first to admit that "The road ahead is rough and tough. Democracy is hard to achieve."

In 2010 an election was held in Burma which upheld the current military government's position of power. The election was denounced as fraudulent by the international community however the government has now made good on many reforms toward liberal democracy, mixed economy, and reconciliation.

These included the release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, establishment of the National Human Rights Commission, general amnesties of many political prisoners, new labour laws, relaxation of press censorship and regulations of currency practices.

The approval of Suu Kyi's candidacy and campaign rallies is also a positive sign of change in Burma but one that is being carefully monitored with cautious optimism the world over.

Though the seat Suu Kyi is contesting is modest, if she wins it will mean that Myanmar's opposition leader finally has a voice inside government - however small.

Suu Kyi said recently that "ultimate power still rests with the army ... we cannot say that we have got to a point where there will be no danger of a U-turn."

by Anna-Belle Woollcott

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