Fourth night of stand-off as Burma blocks Aung San Suu Kyi's convoy

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The Independent Online

The Burmese democracy leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was yesterday still locked in contention with the Burmese military authorities, and preparing to spend a fourth night with her supporters in two vehicles on the outskirts of Rangoon.

The Burmese democracy leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was yesterday still locked in contention with the Burmese military authorities, and preparing to spend a fourth night with her supporters in two vehicles on the outskirts of Rangoon.

Ms Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 after the ruling junta annulled the 1990 general election which the party she leads, the National League for Democracy (NLD) had won by a landslide, was prevented from travelling beyond the capital region on Thursday after setting out with about a dozen party colleagues with the intention of travelling south.

Ms Suu Kyi and her colleagues crossed the Yangon River by ferry and then were collected by a car and a pickup to make the onward journey. But before they had travelled more than a few minutes they were stopped by police, and penned in a narrow lane off the main road, hemmed in by two government trucks. The tyres of the two vehicles were also let down.

Ms Suu Kyi has been in conflict with Burma's military government ever since 1988 when a democratic uprising was ruthlessly suppressed with the loss of thousands of lives. Between 1989 and 1995 she was held under house arrest. Today she is free to visit her party's headquarters in central Rangoon, but whenever she tries to venture further the authorities find pretexts for preventing it.

In the summer of 1998 she tried four times to leave the capital, but each time was stopped. On the last occasion she stayed in her car for 13 days before returning home on her doctor's advice.

The authorities are working hard to put an acceptable spin on this latest confrontation with their most awkward citizen. "Daw Suu Kyi and her personal chauffeur, together with 14 travel companions, are still continuing their rest in Dala township today," the government said in a statement. "Until safety conditions improve, Daw Suu Kyi is visiting Dala township, a small but charming and scenic town..."

She was free, they said, to "continue staying by the roadside as long as the conditions remain safe" - implying that if they decided they had had enough and she must be taken home, they would say that conditions were no longer safe.

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