Myanmar's military government has allowed the party of detained Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to reopen regional branch offices that have been closed since May 2003, a party spokesman said on Thursday.
"So far as we have heard, about 100 branch offices have been reopened across the country, effective Wednesday," said Nyan Win, a spokesman for the National League for Democracy (NLD).
The government closed down NLD branch offices after an attack on Suu Kyi's convoy by pro-regime elements on May 30, 2003. Scores of NLD followers were killed, according to her supporters.
Nyan Win gave a guarded welcome to the government's move.
"Yes, it's a positive step," he said. "I think they want us to take part in the election, but we still haven't made up our mind about this. We still need to talk it over among the top leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."
The junta plans elections at an unspecified date this year, although the poll has been widely derided in advance as a sham to make the country appear democratic, with the military retaining control over key ministries and institutions.
This week it began publishing a series of election laws in state media.
The second, published on Wednesday, obliges the NLD and some other parties to re-register within 60 days with a new election commission. Failure to do so means they will have to fold.
In order to register, they have to exclude party members who are serving prison terms.
That would include Suu Kyi, who has spent 15 of the past 21 years in detention and is now serving 18 months in house detention for breaching security laws.
Many other senior NLD members are among more than 2,000 political prisoners in Myanmar, according to rights activists. All would effectively be barred from taking part in the election.
Nyan Win described some of the provisions of the new law as "completely unacceptable".
Parties wanting to register also have to give a written commitment to uphold the constitution passed in 2008, which the NLD rejects and campaigned against. "It's completely impossible for us," Nyan Win said on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Writing by Alan Raybould; Editing by David Fox)