Myanmar 'may free Suu Kyi in November'

Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi will be freed when her house arrest ends in November, according to a government minister quoted by witnesses on Monday.

Myanmar 'may free Suu Kyi in November'

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be freed when her house arrest ends in November, according to a government minister quoted by witnesses on Monday.

Home Minister Major General Maung Oo told a Jan. 21 meeting of businessmen and local officials the 64-year-old woman would be released in November, a month after many observers expect Myanmar to hold its first parliamentary elections in two decades.

Reuters news agency said the information could not be verified independently but three people who attended the meeting said the comment was made to an audience of several hundred people in Kyaukpadaung, a town about 565 km (350 miles) north of the former capital, Yangon.

The three witnesses requested anonymity and Myanmar Home Ministry officials could not confirm the comments were made.

Last year Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest was extended for a further 18 months after she was found guilty of breaking the terms of her detention by allowing an uninvited American man to stay at her home.

That incident took place in May 2009, just before an earlier period of house arrest was due to end. Taking into account the three months she spent in a prison guesthouse after the incident, her 18-month sentence would end in November.

The planned election would be the first since 1990, when Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party scored a landslide victory that the country's junta refused to recognise.

Maung Oo also said 82-year-old NLD vice-chairman Tin Oo, a former defence minister and retired general, would be released on Feb. 13 after 10 years in detention.

"No cheating"

The minister said the government would pursue an international-style market economy after holding "free and fair" elections, including loosening restrictions on car imports.

"We are not a power crazy government," Maung Oo was quoted as telling the meeting in Kyaukpadaung.

"The election will be held in 2010 without fail. I promise the election will be free and fair, there will be no cheating."

Senior NLD official Khin Maung Swe said it was crucial Suu Kyi and Tin Oo were released before the election.

"The most important thing is they must be freed in good time so that they can work for national reconciliation," he said.

The military junta has not set a date for the vote. The NLD has not yet said whether it would take part in the elections.


Reuters

Last Mod: 25 Ocak 2010, 12:09
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