The Myanmar government on Friday announced that by-elections for at least 48 parliamentary seats would be held on 1 April 2012. Most of the seats were vacated after legislators were inducted into the government.

Pro-democracy leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), might contest the elections.

The controversial 2010 general elections were boycotted by the NLD. The NLD has agreed to register as a political party and contest the polls, a Reuters report has noted.

From 2010, a quarter of seats in the parliament are reserved for the military. The Union Solidarity and Development Party, headed by President Thein Sein, won a majority within the reserved seats in the elections held after the new reforms were introduced.

Recently, the Thein Sein government initiated several political reforms.

A NLD official said the Election Commission had not yet finished processing the application and its candidates would only be announced officially once that was done, according to Reuters. The official added that the 66-year-old Nobel laureate will probably contest the elections for the lower house of the parliament

The Chairman of Election Commission Tin Aye assured Suu Kyi during a recent meeting that the commission would do its best to ensure free and fair voting in the forthcoming by-elections, the Reuters report has noted.

In the 1990 general election, the NLD won majority of seats in the parliament. However the military rulers refused to hand over power and kept the NLD leader Suu Kyi in house arrest. In November 2010 the pro-democratic leader was released following heavy international pressure.

Recently some of the rebel ethnic groups have reached an agreement with the regime to allow the government to organise polls in the areas which are under rebel control.