YANGON, Burma (AP) — Burma will hold by-elections later this year to fill 28 unoccupied parliamentary seats, giving contending parties a chance to test the political waters about a year ahead of the next general election.

The head of the state election body, Tin Aye, on Thursday announced the plans for the polls to be held after monsoon season, which ends in October.

The exact date will be set three months before the vote, which should indicate the strengths of the ruling army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party and the opposition National League for Democracy party led by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi’s party boycotted the 2010 general election as undemocratic but participated in April 2012 by-elections, winning 43 seats out of 45 seats at stake.