Mandalay: Myanmar`s opposition
leader Aung San Suu Kyi was greeted by the largest crowds of
her election campaign so far as she toured the second largest
city of Mandalay on Saturday.
Tens of thousands cheered on the Nobel Peace Prize
Laureate and hundreds of vehicles followed her convoy as it
made its way from the airport to downtown Mandalay, in central
Myanmar, where she was due to deliver a speech.
Former political prisoner Suu Kyi is visiting various
parts of the country as her National League for Democracy
(NLD) party prepares for by-elections on April 1 that will see
her stand for parliament for the first time.
Her decision to run for a seat, in a constituency near
Yangon, is the clearest sign yet of the surprising change
taking place in Myanmar since an army-backed government
replaced decades of outright military rule last year.
Although the opposition cannot threaten the ruling
party`s majority, even if it takes all 48 seats up for grabs
in April, the by-election is seen as a key test of the new
regime`s commitment to reform.
Suu Kyi`s NLD party won a landslide victory in an
election in 1990, but the then-ruling junta never allowed the
party to take power.
The next election 20 years later swept the army`s
political allies to power but was marred by widespread
complaints of cheating and by the absence of Suu Kyi, who was
under house arrest at the time and released a few days later.