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Myanmar junta to free Suu Kyi

world Updated: Nov 13, 2010 07:46 IST

Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is on the verge of being freed from house arrest, officials in the military-ruled country said on Friday, as anticipation grew among her legions of supporters.

Riot police with assault rifles were seen near Suu Kyi’s crumbling lakeside mansion and security was stepped up in Yangon with police vehicles patrolling the city.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, locked up for most of the past two decades, is still seen as the biggest threat to the junta, but her freedom appears to be a price it is willing to pay to deflect criticism of elections held on Sunday.

“The authorities will release her. It is certain,” a government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Lawyers for the 65-year-old dissident said her current term of house arrest started with her imprisonment on May 14 last year and so is due to end on Saturday.

“They cannot extend her detention according to the law,” said one of her lawyers, Nyan Win. “They should release her for the country.”

Suu Kyi’s detention was extended by 18 months in August last year over a bizarre incident in which an American swam uninvited to her lakeside home, keeping her off the scene for the first election in 20 years.

Supporters from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party said they expected her to be released but were still awaiting confirmation from the authorities.