Aung San Suu Kyi
Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi talks to reporters in Yangon Reuters

Myanmar has confirmed that it will hold a general election on 8 November, the first nationwide ballot since the end of direct military rule.

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) however has yet to confirm whether it will be fielding candidates.

"We cannot say whether we will take part right now. We need to hold a meeting to make a decision," spokesman Nyan Win told AFP.

Reuters said that regardless of the election outcome, the military is guaranteed a quarter of the seats in parliament, in line with the constitution it had drafted in 2008. A charter in the constitution also prevents Suu Kyi from being the president of Myanmar because she has children who have foreign citizenship.

The last election in Myanmar was held while the country was still under military rule, in 2010 and was boycotted by the NLD. Suu Kyi was under house arrest at that time.

The elections was won by the Union Solidarity and Development Party whose members include retired military personnel and remnants of the previous regime, Reuters reported.

Suu Kyi and 44 of her party members however now sit in parliament following a 2012 by-election held as part of reforms undertaken by a quasi-civilian government that is still dominated by former generals.

The ballot will see representatives of the bicameral parliament and regional chambers voted in for five year terms. The newly formed upper and lower houses will nominate and vote on who will be its president later.

Western observers expected to be invited

The European Union and the US-based Carter Centre are expected to be invited as monitors for the election which will be closely watched by Western observers.

The NLD won the last free and fair election in 1990 by a huge margin but the military junta in power ignored the results of the elections.

The US has welcomed the announcement, with State Department spokesman Mark Toner saying: "We think that a credible parliamentary election will serve as an important step in Burma's democratic transition."

He told a news briefing that the US was providing support to Myanmar's Union Election Commission, some political parties, civil society groups and others "to ensure that they are able to conduct inclusive and transparent elections."

There are already issues pertaining to inaccuracies in the provisional voter lists. According to AFP, election officials have conceded that the lists contain errors, blaming technical faults and staff shortages but say that there is still time to resolve the problem.

The commission has said that candidates will be given between 20 July and 8 August to register themselves.