Suu Kyi 'to be freed in November'

Jan 25, 2010 (DVB), Burma's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will be released from house arrest in November this year, according to Burmese officials who met with a government minister last week.

The comments could not be independently verified by Reuters, who reported the news after speaking with two officials who attended a meeting on 21 January with Burma's home minister, Maung Oo.

The meeting allegedly took place in Kyaukpadaung, around 350 miles north of the former capital, Rangoon, and was attended by several hundred people.

If true, the release would come one month after the rumoured date of Burma's first elections in 20 years. According to information leaked from a meeting between a government official and the head of a prominent Japanese charity, elections will take place in October, most likely on the 10th.

Releasing Suu Kyi in November would fit with allegations by critics of the junta that her trial was a deliberate ploy to keep her out of the political arena whilst polling is taking place. This is despite international calls for the junta to release all political prisoners prior to that date.

A number of clauses in the controversial 2008 constitution, such as the prohibition on former prisoners running for office, and a similar ban on people who were or are married to non-Burmese, would however prevent Suu Kyi from participating, even if freed.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) leader last week lodged her final appeal against her house arrest at a Rangoon court. According to her lawyers, a decision will be announced in one month.

Suu Kyi however did not attend the court and journalists were barred, although the British ambassador and another embassy official were at the hearing.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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