YANGON — Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's party said Monday it has chosen the image of a fighting peacock gazing at a white star as its new voting emblem, as it prepares to re-enter the political fray.
The image, which is similar to the party's flag and will be its official insignia at the ballot box, is a symbol of the country's struggle for change, said Win Htein, a senior member of the National League for Democracy (NLD).
"In our new seal, the white star represents the revolution. It was used many years ago as revolutionary symbol," he told AFP.
The announcement was aired in state-run media in an unusual concession by Myanmar's army-dominated government, which has embarked on a series of reform measures in recent months, including holding talks with critics.
The NLD has accepted an invitation to rejoin the political mainstream and applied in November to re-register as a political party. Suu Kyi has said she will take part in upcoming by-elections, although no date has been set.
Win Htein said the peacock was chosen in a homage to student protesters involved in the country's 1988 rallies against the military which were brutally crushed by the then ruling junta.
"Students demonstrated against the government under the fighting peacock symbol during the 1988 democracy uprising. So we used this image to acknowledge the struggle of students," he told AFP.
At least 3,000 people were killed in the crackdown, and many democracy activists including Suu Kyi were later locked up. Some student leaders remain in prison and their release is a key demand of the international community.
The NLD's new symbol replaces its well-known bamboo hat trademark, which was used by a breakaway group that participated in the much-criticised 2010 election.
"Because we do not want voters to be confused by the bamboo hat seal in the future, we hereby announce that it is totally not concerned with the National League for Democracy," the NLD's statement in the Myanmar Ahlin newspaper said.
Party emblems are used in Myanmar as a visual marker for voters unable to read and the hat image was particularly popular with rice farmers, who use similar head wear while tending their fields, in the NLD's 1990 election campaign.
Suu Kyi's party won that poll, but was never allowed to take power and its insignia became a source of bitter contention during the run-up to last year's vote.
The NLD refused to participate in the November election -- the first in two decades -- because of rules that appeared designed to exclude the Nobel laureate.
Its boycott led to a splinter group forming a new party, the National Democratic Force (NDF), which appropriated the hat sign.
The NDF now has a handful of seats in the new parliament and continues to use the symbol, despite complaints by Suu Kyi's party.
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