25 January 2010
Reports from Burma suggest the military government may be planning to release the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, later this year. Sources report a Burmese official said that Ms Suu Kyi would be freed in November.
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Burmese officials have hinted many times that Aung San Suu Kyi may be released. But it's the first time in recent months that a putative date has been attached to the idea.
The comments are reported to have been made by a senior minister at a provincial town meeting four days ago. It's a measure of how tightly information is controlled in Burma that it's taken this long for the reports to filter out.
Aung San Suu Kyi's own lawyer told the BBC he'd heard the rumour but could not confirm it. And if indeed she is released in November, key questions about the terms of Aung San Suu Kyi's possible freedom remain. Would there be conditions attached? Would her activities be restricted? And, crucially, would her release come before or after planned elections?
There is also the matter of the legal appeal against Aung San Suu Kyi's current detention. The Supreme Court is due to deliver its verdict in the next couple of weeks. But if the military government says she'll continue to be detained until at least November, the court's decision has been somewhat undermined.
Rachel Harvey, BBC Southeast Asia correspondent, Bangkok
Click to hear the vocabulary:
suggested that something might happen without saying definitely that it would
- a putative date
a date which is believed to be correct
- to filter out
to become public knowledge
- the rumour
the suggestion, without proof, that something might be true
say something is true
situation of not being free
- is due to deliver its verdict
is about to make its decision known
made to have little importance