With her latest detention term ending this weekend, supporters of Burma's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi expect her to be released from house arrest, but the country's military rulers may have other plans.
Sources said Suu Kyi, under house arrest for 15 of the last two decades, was supposed to be released on Friday but that her freedom was delayed because the ruling junta wanted to impose some restrictions on her movements and meeting with her supporters.
The 65-year-old soft-spoken but strong-willed opposition leader is demanding freedom to travel without any restrictions, the sources said.
When she was last released in 2002, she drew huge crowds wherever she went.
The general may be reluctant to release her at this critical juncture when a new government has not yet been formed since the Nov. 7 elections.
But a government official said on Friday that the authorities will release her.
"It is certain," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity
Up to 2,000 of her supporters gathered in front of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party headquarters in the former capital Rangoon on Friday but they were asked to return home by party leaders.
NLD vice-chairman Tin Oo and central executive committee member Win Tin "told the crowd that their gathering to greet Aung San Suu Kyi is very encouraging and we are grateful for that," another central executive committee member Ohn Kyaing told RFA.
"They requested the people to go home and listen to the radio. They told the people that if she were freed, you may come to our office..."Signed order
The supporters, coming from as far as northwestern Kachin state as well as Mandalay, Magway and Irrawaddy divisions, waited for Suu Kyi, holding flowers, posters and photos of her. Some wore T-shirts emblazoned with ‘We Stand with Aung San Suu Kyi’
Government insiders, state officials and well-connected sources said the country's reclusive leader, Senior General Than Shwe, had signed an order for her release, according to reports.
But only a few people are close to Than Shwe and really know what is going on.
Security is mostly tight in Rangoon as Suu Kyi remains confined to her dilapidated lakeside mansion.
In 1990 elections, the party of Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar's independence hero General Aung San, swept to victory but it was not allowed to take power.
The NLD was disbanded by the junta for boycotting last week's elections, the first in two decades and which critics say was marked by fraud and other irregularities aimed at keeping the military in power.
In the latest polls, the pro-junta political party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), secured a majority of seats in both houses of Parliament, according to the latest official results.
The USDP gained 190 of the 219 seats announced so far for the 330-seat Lower House, and 95 out of 107 seats for the 168-seat Upper House.Uninvited American
Map showing Aung San Suu Kyi's residence
Suu Kyi's latest detention order stemmed from her alleged violation of the terms of her house arrest by briefly sheltering an uninvited American who swam to her home.
Her third and final appeal on that case was turned down Thursday, without any explanation.
Suu Kyi is expected to fight to restore her party as she now has no official standing as a political leader.
She has sued the junta over the party ban and the court is to decide on Nov. 18 whether to hear the case.
Her lawyer Nyan Win said an order disbanding the party was based on pre-election rules which cannot be "retrospective."
"The new rules cannot be effective on our party which was set up under the previous rules," he said.Reported by Tin Aung Khine, Nay Rein Kyaw and Ba Aung. Translated by Soe Win. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.