Yangon: Myanmar’s ruling generals are certain to release detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in the next few days, officials said Friday in the wake of a controversial election.
“The authorities will release her. It is certain,” a government official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Lawyers for the 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has spent much of the past two decades locked up, say her current term of house arrest started with her imprisonment on 14 May last year and so is due to end on Saturday.
“She will be released for sure as planned,” said another government official who also declined to be named. “We are just waiting for the time to release her.”
Suu Kyi’s detention was extended by 18 months in August last year over a bizarre incident in which an American swam uninvited to her lakeside home, keeping her off the scene for the first election in 20 years.
“We believe the authorities will release her but we haven’t got any confirmation. They cannot extend her detention according to the law,” said one of her lawyers, Nyan Win.
“They should release her for the country,” he added.
The daughter of Myanmar’s founding father General Aung San swept her National League for Democracy (NLD) to victory in elections two decades ago, but the party was never allowed to take power.
Her supporters have said she will hold a news conference at the NLD’s headquarters if freed, suggesting she is likely to resist any attempt by the authorities to restrict her political activities.
Some observers believe her release could come with restrictions to ensure she cannot threaten the generals’ hold on power.
Nyan Win has suggested she would refused to accept any conditions on her release.
Some NLD youth members were waiting in front of the NLD headquarters on Friday and people planned to donate blood to a local hospital to mark the release of Suu Kyi. Four police vehicles were seen patrolling in the area.
When the softly-spoken but indomitable opposition leader was last released in 2002 she drew huge crowds wherever she went - a reminder that years of detention had not dimmed her immense popularity.
Nyan Win said he expects the authorities to open the road leading to Suu Kyi’s house after her release but to leave some barricades in front of her home.
Her likely release is seen by observers as an effort by the regime to deflect criticism of Sunday’s election, the first since the 1990 vote.
The NLD was disbanded after boycotting Sunday’s election - widely dismissed by the West for being a sham with Suu Kyi sidelined.
The party’s decision not to participate deeply split Myanmar’s opposition.
Those pro-democracy activists which participated in the vote have accused the military’s political proxies of illegally collecting advance ballots.
The main army-backed party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) claims it has won 80% of the seats and partial official results have also shown it has a huge lead.
The USDP has already secured a majority in the House of Representatives with 187 seats out of 219 counted so far and 326 that were available in the election, state television reported Thursday.
The party is also well ahead in the House of Nationalities as well as the regional and state legislatures.
One quarter of the seats in parliament are already reserved for the military, which together with its political proxy looks set to have a comfortable majority for passing laws and electing the president.