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Burma's Opposition Leader Freed from House Arrest - 2002-05-06

Burma's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, freed from more than 18 months of house arrest Monday, says her role now is to continue her struggle for democracy in Burma. The National League for Democracy leader set out her goal as she made a triumphant return to the party headquarters. Aung San Suu Kyi, released from house detention Monday, says she remains committed to bringing democracy to Burma as fast as possible, and continuing to exert political pressure on the military government.

She was mobbed by thousands of supporters as she arrived at the National League for Democracy headquarters in Rangoon, after she had left her University Avenue compound, where she had been detained for more than 18 months.

Her release is seen by political analysts as the first step towards wider political reform in Burma, which has been under military control since 1962. The military says it is committed to allowing Burma's citizens to participate in the political process, as long as national unity and stability are preserved.

Aung San Suu Kyi told the media she has not changed her mind on opposing foreign investment in Burma. But she said she is pleased to hear of the military's commitment.

"I'm very glad to hear that they have said that, because it is certainly what all the Burmese have been wanting to hear for a very long time," she said. "We only hope that the dawn will move over quickly into full morning."

Ms. Suu Kyi says her future role in Burma's politics is to stay at the helm of the NLD, which she led to a landslide victory in 1990 national elections. The military never let the party govern.

"My role has always been to try to do my duties as the general secretary of the National League for Democracy, which is the party at the service of the people. The party was founded in order to bring democracy to Burma, so that is our task, that is what we have to do," she said. "And I, as general secretary of the party, must do everything I can to make sure that democracy comes to Burma quickly, and comes in the right way."

Aung San Suu Kyi, who says there are no restrictions on her political activities and movements, says she will assist other political parties to re-emerge in the new climate.