Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi 'has foot soldiers' support'

Image caption, Aung San Suu Kyi says she wants to hold wide-ranging talks on Burma's future

The BBC Burmese service says it has the first indication of support within the lower ranks of the military for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Infantrymen from two Burmese army divisions confirmed reports that several hundred soldiers travelled to Rangoon to witness her release.

They said they hoped she could talk to their superiors about supply shortages.

Ms Suu Kyi's release came a week after a military-backed political party won Burma's first election in 20 years.

The ballot was widely condemned as a sham.

Ms Suu Kyi, 65, was freed after her latest period of house arrest expired and was not renewed by the military government.

'High hopes'

The extent of support for her in the army is not clear.

A number of soldiers from battalions in Rangoon and Bago divisions and their families went to Aung San Suu Kyi's house on the 13 November to greet her on her release.

"We went there to greet her because we believe the hardships the lower rank and file are facing can be solved if Ms Suu Kyi and the military commanders work together.

"We have high hopes for Ms Suu Kyi," a soldier told the BBC Burmese service.

It follows reports in September that soldiers in many areas were refusing to carry out routine tasks in protest at short rations and lack of access to their pay.

In a series of BBC interviews, soldiers in garrison towns said their rations had been cut for weeks.

They said commanders had barred access to money they had saved, which is kept in a central fund.

The Burmese authorities have denied any disquiet in the military.

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