US calls for Suu Kyi’s immediate release

(AFP), The United States called Tuesday for Burma to immediately release democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi after signals that the junta could free her following controversial elections.

The Nobel laureate’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), said it had heard that the military regime was considering freeing her in November – meeting global demands for her release but only after the election.

“The idea that her release will conveniently come after the election is unfortunate,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.

“We will continue to press the Burmese government for her release,” he said.

He was speaking after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with US Senator Jim Webb, the leading advocate in Congress for engaging the junta.

The NLD won a landslide victory in the last democratic elections in 1990, but the junta, which has ruled Burma since 1962, never allowed the party to take office.

The military regime has defied persistent international appeals by keeping Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for most of the past two decades.

The opposition has been deeply suspicious of the election which the junta plans to hold sometime this year, believing it is a plot to legitimize its rule.

US President Barack Obama’s administration has launched a dialogue with Burma in hopes of wooing the nation back to the international mainstream.

But the administration has voiced concern about the country’s detention of political prisoners and its military campaigns against ethnic minorities.

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