Myanmar's Suu Kyi seeks to revive political party

Suu Kyi was released at the weekend from 7 1/2 years in detention. She told thousands of wildly cheering supporters at the headquarters of her National League for Democracy yesterday that she would continue to fight for human rights and the rule of law in the military-controlled nation.

The 65-year-old Nobel Peace laureate must balance the expectations of the country's pro-democracy movement with the realities of freedom that could be withdrawn any time by the regime.

Although her party is officially dissolved, it has continued operating with the same structure. But without official recognition, it is in legal limbo, leaving it and her vulnerable to government crackdowns.

Suu Kyi, who has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, has indicated she would continue with her political activity but not whether she would challenge the military with mass rallies and other activities.

"I believe in human rights and I believe in the rule of law. I will always fight for these things," Suu Kyi told yesterday's crowd. "I want to work with all democratic forces and I need the support of the people."

Nyan Win, who is her lawyer as well as a party spokesman, said Suu Kyi met with her lawyers yesterday morning and also party officials from areas outside Yangon who have been keeping her political network alive during years of repression.

He said Myanmar's High Court this Thursday will hold a hearing to decide whether to accept a case from Suu Kyi arguing that her party's dissolution "is not in accordance with the law".

The party was disbanded earlier this year under a new law because it failed to register for November 7 elections, complaining conditions set by the junta were unfair and undemocratic.

Suu Kyi's side says the new Election Commission has no right to deregister parties that were registered under a different Election Commission in 1990. The party also contends that the court is legally bound to hear their case.

Full results from the November 7 elections, the first in 20 years, have yet to be released, but figures so far give a military-backed party a solid majority in both houses of parliament.

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