Burma 'extends' Suu Kyi house arrest

 

Burma's military junta has extended opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's period of house arrest for another 12 months, sources within the country's military government say.

The source said officials from the former Burma 's military government had visited Suu Kyi in her Yangon home to read her a statement outlining the decision, which came exactly one year after she received a similar 12 month extension of her detention.

U Lwin, a spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, which won a landslide election victory in 1990 only to be denied power by the army, said they had been kept in the dark about any possible extension.

However, a repeat of last November's one-year decision had been expected, he said.

Typically in one of the most secretive countries in the world, there was some confusion as to the exact terms of the extension, with no official word from the government and another home ministry source saying it might only be six months.

Suu Kyi, 60, has spent around 10 of the last 15 years either in prison or under house arrest as the military - which has run Burma under various guises since 1962 - shows little sign of wanting to loosen its grip on power.

Her latest period in custody started on May 30, 2003 after pro-junta demonstrators attacked Suu Kyi's convoy as she travelled in the countryside north of the capital.

As part of a seven-step "roadmap to democracy", a National Convention to draw up a new constitution is due to restart in December, although diplomats and analysts have dismissed the junta-dominated negotiations as a sham.

Suu Kyi's party, allowed to field just a handful of delegates out of more than 1,000, has chosen to take no part in the convention.

Despite sanctions from the United States and Europe, and a more conciliatory policy of "constructive engagement" by Burma's southeast Asian neighbours, few analysts had been expecting Suu Kyi's release any time soon.