Myanmar democracy champion Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) has been given government approval to rejoin mainstream politics.
"We received permission to register and we decided to run in the by-elections," NLD party spokesman Nyan Win said by phone from Yangon, the former capital. "It's a good sign."
The NLD had previously been stripped of its status as a registered political party after it boycotted last years elections, saying the rules were unfair.
The move now paves the way for NLD members, including Suu Kyi, to run for a seat in the new parliament.
On Monday the NLD said it had chosen the image of a fighting peacock gazing at a white star as its new symbol. The symbol is significant as it was used many years ago, as a revolutionary icon, senior member of the NLD Win Htein told reporters.
Report: Myanmar recognises Suu Kyi's political party (AFP, 13 December 2011)
Report: Suu Kyi's party wins legal status (Today, 14 December 2011)
Report: Myanmar icon Suu Kyi's party unveils new logo (AFP, 13 December 2011)
In other developments, the government has ordered an end to offensive action against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). Myanmar accused the Kachin rebels of starting the latest round of fighting near the Chinese border following the collapse of a truce that was signed 17 years ago. The government said the army needed to protect big hydro-power projects in the area which supply electricity to China.
The KIA opposes China-backed power schemes, saying they cause environmental damage and social disruption, including the relocation of some communities.The latest move comes as Myanmar resumes peace talks with ethnic fighters in the country, as part of its reform measures.
Japan has also announced that Foreign Minister, Koichiro Gemba, will visit Myanmar later this month, the first visit by a Japanese foreign minister since 2002.
Japan will consider resuming official development aid and economic assistance after it was halted in 2003 following the arrest and detention of Suu Kyi. Unlike other nations, Japan has maintained trade ties and dialogue with Myanmar, and warned others of the likelihood of Myanmar drawing closer to China, if it was left isolated by the West. Gemba's visit is the latest high-profile diplomatic trip to the country, and is seen as the latest push by outside countries to maintain pressure and try to propel reforms in the isolated nation.
Report: Burma orders end to fighting against Kachin rebels (BBC News, 12 December 2011)
Report: Japan foreign minister to visit Myanmar (AFP, 13 December 2011)
Finally, the US has repeated that it is not looking to undermine China as it seeks to improve Washington's ties with Myanmar.
"There is no intent of the United States in its relationship with Burma to have any certainly negative influence on Burma-China relations. It is not meant to come at the expense of any country," a US envoy said on Tuesday.
US moves to boost relations with the country come as the US seeks greater engagment in China, in an apparant attempt to counterbalance China's growing influence in the region. But both sides have been keen to downplay competition between the two countries.
"It is not in the interests of the United States that Burma have tense relationships with its neighbors; in fact the contrary," the US envoy said.
Report: U.S. says does not want to undermine China stake in Myanmar (Reuters, 13 December 2011)