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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 08:22 GMT 09:22 UK
Suu Kyi reaches Mandalay
Aung San Suu Kyi celebrates her birthday in Rangoon, 19 June 2002
Aung San Suu Kyi has been meeting party supporters
Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been greeted by a crowd of several thousand people after she arrived in Mandalay on Wednesday.

The crowd filled the streets and climbed trees to witness her first political trip outside the capital Rangoon since her release from house arrest last month.

She was due to meet officials from her political party, the National League for Democracy, which won 1990 elections but was prevented from taking power.


Her visit is going smoothly and successfully

NLD secretary U Lwin

The visit to Mandalay is highly symbolic because it was there that Aung San Suu Kyi was trying to visit when she was placed under house arrest in September 2000.

The opposition leader left the capital Rangoon by car early on Saturday and has been stopping off at towns on the way to make speeches to party activists.

Her visit so far has been low-key but unhindered - showing signs that the military government may be keeping a promise made at her release to allow her full political freedom.

Father's birthplace

Observers say the trip to Mandalay, which is 610 kilometres (380 miles) north of Rangoon, is the first real test of how committed the military is to keeping its promise.

An overnight trip outside Rangoon earlier this month was a private visit to a Buddhist monk.

"Her visit is going smoothly and successfully," NLD secretary U Lwin told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who turned 57 last week, is the daughter of Burma's independence hero Aung San, who was assassinated in 1947. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to bring democracy to Burma, and has spent long periods under house arrest.

A senior military intelligence officer last week said Aung San Suu Kyi had informed the authorities of her planned trip in advance.

Asked if they had arranged security for her, the officer said: "They don't like us to follow them."

Many observers hoped that Aung San Suu Kyi's release would signal a thaw in relations with Burma's ruling military junta. But so far she has been largely ignored by the regime and has met no senior generals, dampening hopes for political progress.


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