Rumours swirl over Suu Kyi's release

Rumours swirl over Suu Kyi's release

Junta keeps all in the dark

Web boards and foreign news media went into overdrive amid a flurry of rumours that the charismatic leader of Myanmar’s fight against dictatorship was set to walk free on Friday or when her latest period of house arrest term expires a day later.

Reports quoted government insiders, state officials and well-connected sources as saying the country’s reclusive leader, Senior General Than Shwe, had signed an order for her release.

But in one of the world’s most secretive states, few outside the junta strongman’s inner circle really know what is going on. Analysts and Myanmar-based diplomats say even his ministers are kept in the dark.

“This is the nature of Than Shwe and his regime,” said David Mathieson, a Myanmar specialist with Human Rights Watch based in neighbouring Thailand.

“Government people don’t know, Suu Kyi’s party doesn’t know and the experts certainly don’t know. No one knows any more than anyone else. We know her house arrest expires on Saturday and everything else is all within the realm of speculation.”

Flawed poll

Myanmar held its first election in 20 years last Sunday which was won by the military’s Union Solidarity and Development Party. The vote was widely seen as flawed to ensure victory for the ruling generals’ proxy.

With the election out of the way, the regime might seek to win some international legitimacy by freeing Suu Kyi at a time when she is little threat to the formation of a government it can choose and control.

Lawyers for Suu Kyi’s now-defunct National League for Democracy party, the winners of the 1990 election ignored by the generals, said they felt confident she would be freed as scheduled.

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