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Britain calls for Suu Kyi's immediate release

Britain has called for the immediate release of Aung Saan Suu Kyi and the United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari's return to the military-ruled country.

world Updated: Feb 13, 2008 09:21 IST

Britain has called for the immediate release of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung Saan Suu Kyi and the United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari's return to the military-ruled country.

"First, Aung San Suu Kyi must be released immediately and allowed to participate along with other political leaders and ethnic groups in drafting the constitution and in the subsequent referendum campaign," Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in a speech at Oxford.

"Second, the UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari should be allowed to return immediately to Burma to help facilitate the process. I believe this is an important time to reflect on the situation in Burma and to think about what the international community can do there - and elsewhere - to help people fulfil their aspirations for democratic rule," he said.

Miliband's remark came days after Myanmar's military regime called for a referendum in May on a new constitution and elections in 2010.

Delivering the Aung Saan Suu Kyi Lecture titled 'The Democratic Imperative' on Monday, Miliband recalled that the pro-democracy leader studied at Oxford where she also met her late husband and scholar, Michael Aris.

Miliband quoted Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Indo-American journalist Fareed Zakaria to insist on the need for democracy to flourish in different parts of the globe.

"(Amartya) Sen has brilliantly shown, from the Buddhist councils in India to the society of the Ochollo in Southern Ethiopia, that people from all cultures came together to deliberate over their communal affairs centuries before the emergence of the Italian city-republics," he said.

In Pakistan, Miliband said the path to democracy began with free and fair elections, but it needed deeper roots.