By THE IRRAWADDY
Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said her decision to compete for a seat in the national Parliament is aimed at enhancing cooperation and understanding among the stakeholders in the country.
She made the remark in a meeting in Rangoon on Tuesday with a group of political activists representing the 88 Generation Students' group, which publicly declared in a recent statement that its members will not participate in the coming parliamentary by-elections, for which a date has not yet been set.
Suu Kyi said that politics inside and outside the parliamentary system will continue to exist even after she joined the Parliament, according to Soe Tun, a leading member of the group that met with Suu Kyi.
Soe Tun is a former political prisoner who had been in hiding inside Burma since the violent government crackdown in 2007 against monk-led pro-democracy protests. He recently joined public political events following overtures to the opposition by Burma's new quasi-civilian government.
"She explained that her joining the Parliament is because she believes it will further increase friendship and cooperation among all of us and also speed up the process of dialogue leading towards national reconciliation," said Soe Tun,
The overtures, which included a private meeting between Suu Kyi and President Thein Sein, resulted in the decision of the NLD to join the by-elections despite the fact that it boycotted last year's parliamentary election, which observers condemned as widely fraudulent.
The 88 Generation Students group was formed by student activists involved in the country's popular democracy uprising in 1988.
The group previously said in a statement that it will not consider joining the election until group leaders such as Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi, both influential dissidents who began serving 65-year prison sentences in 2007, are released.
The statement was announced following the decision by Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) to participate in the parliamentary system.
"We explained to Daw Suu that our group will not field any candidate for the coming elections as long as our leaders are not released. But we have no objection whatsoever to any one joining the elections on an individual basis. And Daw Suu said she has an understanding of it," said Soe Tun.
He added that Suu Kyi still invited them to join the election workshops and training which the NLD will conduct. The purpose of the events will be to educate the public so that people can vote in the election with an awareness of election issues such as the suspicious advanced ballots that helped the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party win a dominating majority in the current Parliament.
A group of exiled dissident Buddhist monks also issued a recent statement saying that it would not support elections until political prisoners in the country, which include Buddhist monks, are released.
Meanwhile, government sources reportedly said that the Burmese government will release all the political prisoners on Jan. 4, marking the 64th anniversary of Burma's independence from British colonial rule.