Aung San Suu Kyi 'must end political activity'

Aung San Suu Kyi is mobbed by supporters as she arrives at her National League for Democracy party headquarters in Rangoon The National League for Democracy continues to issue statements and hold meetings

Burma's government has warned pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party to halt all political activities, state media report.

The interior ministry told the Nobel peace prize laureate her party was breaking the law by keeping its offices open and holding meetings.

Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in November following Burma's first election in 20 years.

The NLD was officially dissolved for refusing to register for the poll.

This first official warning was made in a letter to Aung San Suu Kyi and the chairman of the NLD, Aung Shwe.

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper said the party should apply to register as a social organisation if it wanted to "engage in social affairs".

"If they really want to accept and practise democracy effectively, they are to stop such acts that can harm peace and stability and the rule of law as well as the unity among the people," it said.

'Chaos and riots'

Aung San Suu Kyi has remained in Rangoon since her release from house arrest. But she has said she soon plans to travel to the countryside to meet her supporters.

A commentary in the state-run newspaper warned that such a move could cause turmoil.

"We are deeply concerned that if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi makes trips to countryside regions, there may be chaos and riots, as evidenced by previous incidents," it said.

Analysis

This is the first official warning issued to Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD since a new, nominally civilian government took power earlier this year.

They have been told to stop all activities that harm peace, stability and the unity of the people. Issuing statements to the media and holding meetings with international organisations are now deemed illegal.

In a BBC lecture, broadcast on the day the government warning was issued, Aung San Suu Kyi said recent events in the Middle East and North Africa had renewed her movement's commitment to freedom.

The democracy leader has remained in Rangoon since her release from house arrest last November. But she has said she soon plans to travel to the countryside to meet her supporters.

A commentary in a state-run newspaper said any such trip could lead to chaos. After initially allowing Aung San Suu Kyi some leeway, the Burmese authorities it seems have decided to set new boundaries.

"Aung San Suu Kyi is just an ordinary public member, so (the government) will not restrict her from travelling and doing things in accordance with the law, but she shall honour the laws for the rule of law."

Aung San Suu Kyi made a similar political tour in 2003, which drew large crowds before being ambushed apparently organised by the then ruling generals.

Several of her supporters were killed. Although she escaped alive, she was detained for seven years.

In the BBC Reith lectures broadcast on Tuesday, Ms Suu Kyi compared the history of dissent in her country to the uprisings now over-turning some governments in the Middle East.

"The universal human aspiration to be free has been brought home to us by the stirring developments in the Middle East," she said.

"Do we envy the people of Tunisia and Egypt? Yes, we do envy them their quick and peaceful transitions.

"But more than envy is a sense of solidarity and of renewed commitment to our cause, which is the cause of all women and men who value human dignity and freedom," she added.

The National League for Democracy won a resounding victory in Burma's elections in 1990, but was kept from power by the military junta.

The party refused to re-register in order to take part in last November's election, complaining that the conditions set by the junta were unfair and undemocratic.

In January, Burma's highest court upheld the dissolution of the NLD, saying it would remain an unlawful association.

The court's decision leaves Aung San Suu Kyi and her party outside formal politics in Burma.

Military-backed parties won by far the largest number of seats in the elections which the ruling generals said marked a transition to democracy, but opposition groups and Western nations condemned as a sham.

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