Suu Kyi supporters prepare for weekend release

Burma’s pro-junta political party secured a majority of seats in both houses of parliament as speculation mounted today that democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be freed from house arrest.

Burma’s pro-junta political party secured a majority of seats in both houses of parliament as speculation mounted today that democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi would be freed from house arrest.

The partial batch of results, the latest official results from the country’s first election in 20 years, confirmed the victory of the Union Solidarity and Development Party in Sunday’s vote, which critics say was marked by fraud and engineered to sustain the military’s power.

The latest results were announced on the same day Ms Suu Kyi lost an appeal for early release from house arrest. But the sentence is due to expire tomorrow and close aides remained optimistic she would be freed.

The junta has not confirmed the 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner will be released, but government officials have quietly said they are making “necessary security preparations” for this weekend.

State radio announced results for 147 constituencies in the lower house yesterday, with the USDP winning 133. USDP won 81 of 86 races newly announced for the upper house.

The new and previously announced results show the USDP gained majorities in both houses of parliament: 190 of the 219 seats announced for the 330-seat lower house, and 95 out of 107 seats announced for the 168-seat upper house.

Top members of the ruling junta were among those who won seats, including prime minister Thein Sein, who also heads the USDP, a proxy for the junta.

Ms Suu Kyi has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years, the latest for violating terms of her house arrest by briefly sheltering an uninvited American who swam to her lakeside home.

Her third and final appeal on that case was filed to the Special Appellate Bench in the remote capital of Naypyitaw.

The court posted its decision yesterday on a public notice board, giving no explanation why the appeal was turned down, said Nyan Win, Ms Suu Kyi’s lawyer.

“This decision is absolutely wrong and shows the state of justice system in the country,” he said.

Once she is released, Ms Suu Kyi plans to help her disbanded party probe allegations of fraud in the polls, said Mr Nyan Win, who is also a spokesman for the party.

Re-entering politics, especially in a manner that would embarrass the junta, poses the sort of challenge that the military has met in the past by detaining her.

While her National League for Democracy was disbanded because it refused to participate in the election, it remains enormously popular as a social movement.

The NLD’s dilapidated headquarters in Rangoon has been bustling with party members tidying Ms Suu Kyi’s old office in anticipating she would be freed.

“She has to be freed as there is no law under which her detention can be extended,” said Mr Nyan Win. But he added Ms Suu Kyi would not accept her release if conditions were imposed.

In the past the military has not let her travel out of Rangoon, fearing her popularity could encourage dissent.

The younger of Ms Suu Kyi’s two sons, Kim Aris, 33, who lives in Britain, was granted a Burma visa this week, indicating he may be allowed to see his mother for the first time in 10 years.

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