The junta has said it will not hold elections for a new government until a new constitution is drafted. A convention to endorse guidelines for the charter began on Saturday, but there has been no word on how long that would last or when the charter would be finished.
Mrs Suu Kyi, 47, won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for standing up to the junta, which has been criticised worldwide for human rights abuses. She has been under strict house arrest since July 1989.
At a news conference yesterday, Lieutenant-Colonel Kyaw Win, deputy director of military intelligence and a government information officer, maintained the junta's tough stand toward Ms Suu Kyi. Asked about her release, he said: 'We cannot release her . . . because we are afraid that some unscrupulous elements might manipulate her and destabilise the situation. The next government will have to consider the release of Aung San Suu Kyi after a peaceful transfer of power.'
Asked if her detention was one reason foreign aid and investment were not entering Burma, another information officer, Colonel Ye Tut, said: 'We have survived without foreign aid for many years.'
In rallies, hunger strikes and written statements, the country's opposition groups have dismissed the constitutional convention as an attempt by the junta to paint a veneer of legitimacy on continued authoritarian rule. The army has made it known to delegates that a leading military role in politics should be among the principles of the new charter.