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Politic-Economic-Society-Tech

Myanmar Opposition Leader Travels

Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday started a weeklong tour of the countryside on party business, a test of the military junta's sincerity after it released her from house arrest last month.

Suu Kyi's low-key but unhindered departure a little after dawn indicated that the military government was keeping its promise, made after freeing her on May 6, to allow her full political freedom.

Suu Kyi's previous plans to leave the capital were thwarted by the junta. Her last attempt to travel to the northern city of Mandalay in September 2000 resulted in her house arrest.

However, the government started U.N.-brokered reconciliation talks with her in October 2000, and since then has eased its crackdown on the opposition.

The current military junta came to power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy movement, and has refused to hand over power to Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, which won the 1990 elections called by the ruling generals.

Suu Kyi, 57, left her lakeside home in the capital, Yangon, for Mandalay at about 6 a.m. in her Toyota sedan, followed by another vehicle carrying members of her National League for Democracy party, witnesses said.

En route to Mandalay, 350 miles north of Yangon, the Nobel peace laureate will visit the towns of Magwe, Kyaukpadaung and Natmauk, party officials said.

Natmauk is the hometown of Suu Kyi's father, Myanmar's independence hero Gen. Aung San.

Since her release, Suu Kyi has visited various NLD offices in the outskirts of Yangon to reorganize her party. On June 14, she went on a pilgrimage to Thamanya mountain, 100 miles east of Yangon, to pay homage to a revered Buddhist abbot.

She made another pilgrimage outside the capital on June 19 to offer breakfast to monks on her 57th birthday.

The purpose of her latest trip is party business, she will have meetings with party members at all the places that she visits, an NLD official said.



sourc
e: The Associated Press, Sat 22 Jun 2002
 


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