Myanmar opposition leader meets party elders

AP News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2009 2:28 AM

Myanmar's detained opposition leader was allowed out of her home Wednesday to meet three ailing elders of her political party, with whom she discussed a reorganization of its leadership.

Reporters were not allowed to observe the meeting, but witnessed cars driving both Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, and her National League for Democracy colleagues to a state guest house usually used for meetings with the detained opposition leader.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi, 64, met for about 45 minutes with party chairman Aung Shwe, 91, Secretary U Lwin, 86, and Lun Tin, 88. Suu Kyi was last allowed to meet with her party's leadership at a state guest house in January 2008.

U Lwin told reporters afterward that Suu Kyi told them she wanted to reorganize the party's Central Executive Committee and needed their permission to do so.

He said that they agreed to the proposal and told her that they would continue "to support and stand for the party."

Myanmar's military government has said it will hold a general election year, but has not yet set an exact date or passed the necessary laws. Suu Kyi's party won the last election in 1990, but the military refused to allow it to take power.

The constitution adopted last year that set up next year's polls was considered undemocratic by the NLD, and it has not yet committed to taking part. The constitution has clauses that would ensure that the military remains the controlling power in government, and would bar Suu Kyi from holding office.

U Lwin said Suu Kyi paid her respects in a traditional manner to the elders, kneeling in front of them, and gave them gifts of baskets containing fruit and nutritional drinks and medicine.

He said Suu Kyi was happy to see them and they felt the same way.

"We haven't seen her for a long time. She looks a bit thinner," said U Lwin.

The meeting came more than a month after Suu Kyi sent a letter to junta chief Senior Gen. Than Shwe. In it, she sought permission to meet several elderly colleagues, and separately with other members of her party's central executive committee. She also requested a meeting with the junta chief to discuss how they can cooperate for the national interest.

The government's liaison with Suu Kyi, Relations Minister Aung Kyi, informed her last week that she would be allowed to meet the elderly party leaders, though not where she requested _ at their homes _ but at a place arranged by authorities.

Suu Kyi's legal team will present their arguments at the Supreme Court next Monday appealing against this year's extension of her house arrest. She has been detained for about 14 of the past 20 years.