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Myanmar's opposition hopeful of Suu Kyi's release

The extension of Suu Kyi's detention came as her party was marking the 16th anniversary of its landslide victory in 1990 polls.

india Updated: May 27, 2006 12:56 IST

Myanmar's Opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) said on Saturday it was still hopeful that party leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be set free, despite the earlier extension of her house arrest.

"We still feel hopeful that she will be released... The extension is not discouraging, because we feel there was a reason for it," said NLD spokesman Myint Thein.

Saturday's extension came as the party was marking the 16th anniversary of its landslide victory in 1990 elections, which the junta has never recognised.

More than 500 NLD supporters on Saturday gathered at the party's headquarters in Yangon to mark the May 27 anniversary while some 20 plain-clothes security officials watched the building.

Government officials would not say how long the extension would last, and Myint Thein said the junta may have wanted to avoid releasing her on a date that carries so much significance for the democracy movement.

"The fact that they have had to extend the house arrest without specifying a time frame means they want to avoid sensitive dates" like May 27 and May 30, he said.

Aung San Suu Kyi's most recent arrest came on May 30, 2003, after a violent clash between her supporters and a pro-junta group.

"I feel they want to play very safe, and I don't think they plan to release her until after these days have passed," the NLD spokesman said.

Sources close to the military and analysts said the junta could have been negotiating to loosen the restrictions on the 60-year-old Nobel peace laureate.

But the NLD spokesman said Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 10 of the past 17 years in detention, would never accept conditional freedom.

"Aung San Suu Kyi would never agree to half measures," Myint Thein said. The extension came amid an international outcry demanding her freedom. On Friday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan made a direct appeal to the leader of Myanmar's ruling junta, General Than Shwe, urging him to free Aung San Suu Kyi.

First Published: May 27, 2006 12:56 IST