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Myanmar allows pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi to meet with party members

[JURIST] The military junta in Myanmar [JURIST news archive] Thursday agreed to allow opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile] to meet with fellow members of her political party Friday for the first time in three years. The announcement came after UN Special Envoy for Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari [official profile] left the country following his six-day visit [UN press release] during which he met with Suu Kyi [JURIST report]. Gambari subsequently released a statement [text] on behalf of Suu Kyi, her first since 2003:

In the interest of the nation, I stand ready to cooperate with the Government in order to make this process of dialogue a success and welcome the necessary good offices role of the United Nations to help facilitate our efforts in this regard.

In full awareness of the essential role of political parties in democratic societies, in deep appreciation of the sacrifices of the members of my party and in my position as General Secretary, I will be guided by the policies and wishes of the National League for Democracy. However, in this time of vital need for democratic solidarity and national unity, it is my duty to give constant and serious considerations to the interests and opinions of as broad a range of political organizations and forces as possible, in particular those of our ethnic nationality races.

To that end, I am committed to pursue the path of dialogue constructively and invite the Government and all relevant parties to join me in this spirit.
Gambari also released his own assessment [text] at the conclusion of his visit. While in Myanmar, Gambari also met with Prime Minister General Thein Sein [press release], to whom he delivered a letter from the UN Secretary-General addressed to junta leader Senior General Than Shwe [BBC profile], whom he was unable to meet. AP has more.

Last week, officials said that the Myanmar junta had released an additional 46 people detained during the recent government crackdown on opponents of the military junta, after releasing 87 other demonstrators [JURIST reports] at the end of October. The government crackdown against protesters began in August, when Myanmar security officers arrested hundreds of Buddhist monks demonstrating against rising fuel prices and human rights abuses by the military regime. Protests only subsided when junta troops effectively locked down Myanmar's major cities. At least 10 people were killed when government soldiers shot into protesting crowds [JURIST report] and the government has said that some 3,000 people were arrested for participating in the protests. It is unclear how many protesters remain in detention, but official media reported Wednesday that 2,836 people out of 2,927 detainees have been released [Xinhua report].

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