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Aung San Suu Kyi Calls for Unity on First Political Trip

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma's democratic opposition, smiles to supporters near Bago, some 100 km north of Rangoon, August 14, 2011

Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi called for unity Sunday, as she addressed cheering crowds on her first political foray outside her home city of Rangoon since she was freed from house arrest late last year.

Hundreds of people lined roadways to greet the Nobel laureate as she made stops in the northern towns of Bago and Thanatpin during her one-day trip, which unfolded without incident.

The 66-year-old activist called for unity and asked crowds to support her National League for Democracy party, which the previous military government disbanded before general elections last November.

Officials from Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party said there will be more trips in the future, despite warnings in June from the new military-backed government that such tours could spark chaos and riots.

In 2003, during a political tour of upper Burma, as many as 70 of Aung San Suu Kyi's supporters were killed in an attack widely seen as an assassination attempt by a pro-government mob. The NLD leader escaped harm, but was later arrested by government security forces and sentenced to seven years of house arrest.

The NLD party was forced by the former junta to disband as a political party last year, when it boycotted national elections because Aung San Suu Kyi - then under house arrest - was not allowed to participate. Burma's Supreme Court later rejected a legal challenge to the dissolution order.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.