Several reforms have been undertaken by Burma’s nominally civilian government which got to power earlier this year.
The latest reform was signed by president Thein Sein (photo with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, from bbcimg.co.uk) and allows peaceful demonstrations for the first time, state media report.
Before that new law all protests were banned, now people will have to seek approval at least five days in advance.
On Friday, a truce was reached between the government and a leading armed ethnic group, the Shan State Army South. According to the civic group Myanmar Egress the truce was signed in the eastern state of Shan.
One of the key demand by Western countries to lift sanctions on Burma is peace talks with the country’s many armed ethnic groups.
Both the new law and the ceasefire were announced at the end of a three-day visit to Burma by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, the most senior US official to visit the country in 50 years.
The US maintains tight sanctions on senior leaders in Burma.
On Friday Mrs Clinton met Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s pro-democracy leader who has been released more than a year ago from seven years of house arrest.
She told Mrs Clinton that Burma could get on “the road to democracy”.
Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed recent government actions which has released more than 230 political prisoners, eased media censorship and sought guidance from international financial institutions in order to revive the country’s economy.
The government also amended its political parties law which barred anyone convicted of a crime from being a member of a political party or taking part in an election. So now political prisoners and Aung San Suu Kyi are allowed to run for office.
President Thein Sein told Mrs Clinton : “Your visit is historic and will be a new chapter in relations. I appreciate the atmosphere you have created for friendly relations.”
“I am here today because President [Barack] Obama and myself are encouraged by the steps that you and your government have taken to provide for your people,” Hillary Clinton told the former general.
Earlier this year the military junta handed power to a civilian government – even though it has close links to the army – after ruling Burma from 1962 to 2010 but the military’s primacy is entrenched in the new constitution
In May 2008 the generals said the new constitution was approved by 92,5 per cent of voters, although the opposition charges that the vote was unfair.
This constitution guarantees that the military will have 25 per cent of parliamentary seats, and allows the president to hand over all power to the army in a state of emergency.
The improvement has also been observed by the UN and international human rights organisation who have repeatedly issued reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations in the country.
But rights groups say that since the arrival of the civilian government Burma’s record has been improving.