One year to the day after her release from house arrest, the Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi may be on the brink of the biggest breakthrough of her career.
As the Burmese Government reportedly prepares to release another 2000 prisoners this week, Suu Kyi's spokesman said it was "likely" that she would stand in a byelection, which could be held next month.
President Thein Sein, a former general who assumed office this year, has held talks with Suu Kyi, and has legalised trade unions and marginally relaxed Burma's tough censorship laws. He has also allowed Suu Kyi's image and words to be available to the public for the first time since 1989.
He has frozen work on a highly unpopular Chinese-sponsored dam across the Irrawaddy River, saying it is "against the will of the people", and approved the release of some of Burma's 2000 political prisoners.
The anniversary of Suu Kyi's release may see another prisoner release, with Burmese sources predicting that some high-profile detainees such as Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi, who helped organise mass protests against the regime in 1988 and 2007, could be set free or at least moved to prisons closer to their families.
But the charm offensive has left untouched many areas of Burmese life. The Burmese army still pursues wars against insurgents in Karen, Shan and Kachin states, on the eastern and northern borders, ignoring Suu Kyi's demands for negotiations on a peace deal.
Abysmal standards of healthcare and education are unchanged. Wai Hnin, campaigns officer at Burma Campaign (UK), said: "Small reforms ... have to be balanced against almost 150,000 people in ethnic states fleeing attacks by the Burmese army, the increased use of gang-rape against women and girls [in the insurgency areas], and most political prisoners remaining in jail."
Thomas Ojea Quintana, United Nations Human Rights envoy to Burma, was permitted to visit the country for the first time in years, but reported "serious human rights violations, including attacks against civilian populations, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, internal displacement, land confiscation, the recruitment of child soldiers and forced labour and portering".
If reforms have gone largely unnoticed by the Burmese masses, they have drawn the favourable attention of the outside world.
After her meeting with Thein Sein in August, Suu Kyi said she believed he wanted to achieve "real, positive change".
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the weekend: "It appears that there are real changes taking place on the ground and we support these early efforts."
One of those efforts involved making changes to the law governing the registration of political parties, opening the way for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy to re-enter a system it quit last year when parties were barred from having political prisoners or detainees among their members.
If the party re-registers, Suu Kyi could run in a byelection as early as next month. It is rumoured that the regime has offered her a senior ministerial post, but it would seem she regards democratic endorsement by the electorate as a vital preliminary.