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Party Will Continue to Build Democracy in Burma, says Aung San Suu Kyi - 2002-07-21

Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says her party will persevere to build democracy in the military-ruled country. She made the statement during her second political road trip outside the capital since being released from house arrest. Aung San Suu Kyi told enthusiastic crowds in Mon State Sunday that only the Burmese people have a right to decide the fate of the country. She says that her National League for Democracy will continue to work to build an open political system.

The comments came at meetings with supporters on her second political trip outside Rangoon since May, when she was released from 19 months of house detention. Aung San Suu Kyi is traveling to assess how to rebuild the NLD, which has been subjected to more than a decade of repression and harassment by the government.

Since leaving her Rangoon home Saturday, Aung San Suu Kyi has stopped in a number of cities and towns, including Moulmein, where as many as 3,000 clapping residents greeted her.

Authorities have not interfered with her travel or speeches, another sign that relations between the ruling generals and the opposition are improving. The thaw began in October 2000, when U.N. envoy Razali Ismail brought the two sides together in a series of closed-door talks. Since then, the military has released hundreds of detained NLD members, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and allowed the party to re-open some political offices. But there has been no reported progress on the main issue, the transition from military rule. The military has held power in Burma since 1962. Elections were held in 1990, but the ruling generals refused to recognize the results after the NLD won by a landslide. Since then, the international community has used trade and economic sanctions to pressure Rangoon to the negotiating table. The U.N envoy is due to return to Burma in early August to press for substantive negotiations.