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MYANMAR: Suu Kyi cautiously optimistic

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi cautioned Thursday that the democratic reforms started by the nominally civilian government are not "unstoppable" and will succeed only if the powerful military accepts the changes. The comments by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in an interview with The Associated Press were clearly meant to remind the West that the long-ruling military wields enormous power despite a new veneer of democracy. "In the end that's the most important factor, how far the military are prepared to cooperate with reform principles," Suu Kyi said. The government approved her National League for Democracy's registration Thursday, and the NLD can now pick candidates to run in by-elections on April 1. The military-backed but elected government took office in March, replacing army rule and tentatively easing years of repression. Its changes included legalizing labor unions, increasing press freedom and opening a dialogue with Suu Kyi.


PERU: Trial for Natalee suspect

Joran van der Sloot goes on trial Friday in the murder of a young Peruvian woman, nearly seven years after he became the prime suspect in the unsolved disappearance of Natalee Holloway, 19, of Alabama who was celebrating her high school graduation in Aruba. Van der Sloot, 24, is charged with killing Stephany Flores, 21, in his Lima hotel room on May 30, 2010. The slaying happened five years to the day after the disappearance of Holloway, who was seen leaving a nightclub with Van der Sloot. Her body has never been found.


SOUTH AFRICA: Mandela's party turns 100

Against all odds, the party of Nelson Mandela has transformed a nation where just 20 years ago black South Africans could not vote, and beaches and restaurants were reserved for whites only. As the African National Congress marks its 100th anniversary this weekend, critics nevertheless say the ANC has failed to unchain an impoverished majority still shackled by a white-dominated economy.

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