Myanmar extends Suu Kyi detention

Country's foremost democracy leader is to remain under house arrest in Yangon.

    Aung San Suu Kyi has been held for 12
    of the past 18 years [AFP]

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    Suu Kyi has been confined for 12 of the past 18 years.


    Her last spell in detention started on May 30, 2003 "for her own protection" after clashes between her followers and government supporters in the northern town of Depayin.


    "We expected they would extend it, although there is no law that would have done that," Sein Win, chairman of the Burmese government in exile, told Al Jazeera.


    "We are asking them not only to release her but to talk with her."


    On Tuesday, police detained more than a dozen members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party after they marched from the party's headquarters to her home.


    Referendum rejected


    Suu Kyi's party has 

    rejected the outcome of Myanmar's recent referendum on a military-backed constitution, calling the approval of the

    text a "sham".


    The military government said on Monday that voters in the cyclone-hit country overwhelmingly approved the constitution that critics say will perpetuate the military's decades-old grip on power.


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    "The referendum is not free and fair," the party said in its first official reaction to the junta's claim of victory.


    The generals said the constitution was approved by 92.5 per cent of voters.


    The proposed constitution guarantees 25 per cent of parliamentary seats to the military and allows the president to hand over all power to the military in a state of emergency.


    Critics say these provisions go against the military government's professed commitment to democracy.


    The new charter would also bar Suu Kyi from running for president.

    Cyclone damage
    Myanmar's rulers came under international criticism for holding the referendum in the aftermath of a devastating cyclone that left an estimated 134,000 people dead or missing.
    Up to 2.4 million people are thought to have been left destitute by the storm.
    For weeks the government refused to allow foreign aid workers in to help deal with the cyclone damage.
    The generals also refused to allow a French ship carrying emergency supplies for the cyclone victims to enter the country, even though it was equipped with three helicopters and carried enough food to sustain 100,000 people for two weeks.


    The Mistral arrived in Thailand on Tuesday, where it planned to unload its cargo for storage in a warehouse.


    France said on Sunday that it had given up trying to deliver the shipload of aid, saying it was "shocked" by the resistance of Myanmar's military rulers.


    The extension of Suu Kyi's detention is likely to dismay Western donor nations which have pledged tens of millions of dollars in conditional aid since Cyclone Nargis hit on May 2.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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