– VOA News
Burma’s military rulers appear to be on the verge of releasing pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, after detaining her for most of the past two decades.
On Friday, a day ahead of her scheduled release, government officials told the French news agency her release was a certainty, although no time was mentioned.
And Tin Oo, vice chairman of her banned National League for Democracy party, said his sources told him her release order has been signed.
Authorities increased security in Rangoon as supporters gathered near her lakeside home and at the party’s headquarters.
A Saturday release would be six days after Burma’s first election in two decades. The military’s political party already has claimed a majority of seats in both houses of Parliament, in voting that Western leaders and human rights activists say was fraudulent and aimed at ensuring continued military rule with a civilian face.
Aung San Suu Kyi’s release would raise immediate questions about how much freedom the military rulers will grant her. Her followers say she will not accept any conditions on release. Her lawyer says the 65-year-old Nobel Peace laureate would resume political activities.
Her party won a landslide victory in the last Burmese election, in 1990, but the military rulers refused to let it take power. Now, some analysts think the military might view Aung San Suu Kyi’s release as a way to soften overseas criticism of last Sunday’s election.
The rulers did not allow international observers to enter Burma to watch the voting, but there were reports of punishment being meted out to those who voted against the military’s political party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party.