'Suu Kyi Will Be Released': Home Minister

The detained leader of Burma's main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), Aung San Suu Kyi, and her deputy, Tin Oo, will be released this year, the Burmese Minister for Home Affairs Maj-Gen Maung Oo reportedly told local officials in Kyaukpadaung Township last week.

According to a Reuters report, Maung Oo made the statement on Jan. 21 at a gathering of local officials in the central Burmese town.

“We heard that Daw Suu will be released in November this year and U Tin Oo on Feb. 13,” said NLD spokesman Khin Maung Swe. "Maung Oo also said that the NLD is not so bad and should be listened to."

“We welcome the news. But this is not politically significant since the elections would already be finished when Aung San Suu Kyi is released,” said Win Tin, an NLD leader, adding that if Suu Kyi is not released until after the elections, the chances are lowered of the NLD participating in the current political process.

According to sources in Kyaukpaduang Towship in Mandalay Division, Maung Oo said at the meeting that the election will be free and fair and that polls will not be rigged.

Both Suu Kyi and Tin Oo, the deputy chairman of the NLD, are currently under house arrest. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi had her house arrest extended in August for briefly sheltering an American citizen who swan uninvited to her lakeside home in Rangoon.

Maung Oo played a role at the end of Suu Kyi's trial, theatrically entering the courtroom to read aloud a statment from junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe that commuted Suu Kyi's sentence from three years' hard labor to 18 months under house arrest, which runs from May 2009 to November 2010.

Tin Oo has been under house arrest since May 2003 when Suu Kyi and many of her party members were attacked by a government-sponsored mob in the village of Depayin in Sagaing Division.

Burmese junta chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe reaffirmed earlier this month that an election will be held this year. The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, recently reported that the election will be held on Oct. 10, citing a Burmese military source.

Some observers said the Oct. 10 date provided by the Asahi source was plausible, given the junta's superstitious attachment to auspicious numbers. By holding the election on the 10th day of the 10th month in 2010, the regime leaders believe their victory is assured.


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