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In turnabout, Myanmar junta to allow detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to vote

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Detained Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be allowed to vote in November elections, although her name was not on an initial voter list, an official said Friday.

The gesture comes during an annual U.N. General Assembly meeting at which the country's ruling junta would like to make a good impression. Many Western nations and the U.N. are critical of the junta for its poor human rights record and refusal to hand over power to Suu Kyi's party after it overwhelmingly won the country's last elections in 1990.

Suu Kyi's name was added to a supplemental voting list posted Friday, a local official said. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release information, said she would be allowed to vote but might have to cast her ballot without leaving home. Suu Kyi is under house arrest, and has been in detention for about 15 of the past 21 years.

Allowing Suu Kyi to vote would seem to have little point, since she has said disgruntled citizens have the right not to participate in the Nov. 7 polls. Her National League for Democracy party also has been disbanded by the government for deciding to boycott the balloting, saying the rules were unfair and undemocratic.

It was not immediately clear why Suu Kyi's name was added to the new voting list. According to new election laws, convicted persons are not eligible to vote or contest an election.

Suu Kyi was convicted in August 2009, along with two women who live with her, of violating the terms of her house arrest by briefly sheltering an American man who swam uninvited to her lakeside home. She is currently serving an 18-month term of house arrest that is to expire Nov. 13, six days after the elections.

The two women, who help with Suu Kyi's daily chores and are also under house arrest, were also missing from the original voter list but had their names added Friday.