Renovation to begin on Suu Kyi's house

Dec 2, 2009 (DVB), Renovations on the house-cum-prison of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi could begin this week after being approved by government authorities, Suu Kyi's lawyer said.

Nyan Win said that authorities had granted permission for an architect and construction workers to enter the Rangoon compound, where Suu Kyi has been held under house arrest for 14 of the past 20 years.

Few outsiders can visit the house where the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader lives with her two caretakers.

"We have submitted to authorities a list of workers and construction materials to enter the house," said NLD spokesperson Nyan Win.

"I think we will be able to start the renovation in this week. The main renovation will be on the two balconies on the house , they will be walled up and turned into rooms."

The house, which officially belongs to Suu Kyi's late mother, was earlier this year the subject of a legal dispute over ownership between Suu Kyi and her estranged cousin, Khin Maung Aye.

There had been speculation that the retired army officer would sell the plot of land, on the shores of Rangoon's Inya lake, to government cronies, although nothing came of it.

The house came to international attention earlier this year after US citizen John Yettaw successful crossed Inya lake, using homemade flippers, and entered the compound.

Speaking in court following the incident, Yettaw's lawyer quoted the 54-year-old as saying that soldiers guarding the compound had merely thrown rocks at him as he swam across the lake.

Suu Kyi was then taken to court and charged with breaching conditions of her house, with judges claiming that she had sheltered Yettaw. Her house arrest was extended by 18 months.

"An iron grille will be installed in the main house," said Nyan Win. "There is a small wooden house in the compound that has nearly collapsed and is covered in bushes. It will be demolished."

He added that two other wooden houses, one by the compound entrance, "will be spared."

Reporting by Htet Aung Kyaw

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