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Last Updated: Friday, 26 May 2006, 21:52 GMT 22:52 UK
Suu Kyi house arrest term expires
Aung San Suu Kyi. File photo
Aung San Suu Kyi's current period of detention is due to end on Saturday
The latest house arrest term of Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi ends shortly amid calls for her release.

Last time the arrest period expired it was extended, but there are hopes Ms Suu Kyi could be freed on Saturday.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has appealed to the head of Burma's military junta, General Than Shwe, to "do the right thing" and release her.

Police visited Ms Suu Kyi's home on Friday, and the AFP news agency reported officers removed barbed wire.

The exact purpose of the brief visit was not clear.

Ms Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for 10 of the last 16 years.

Mr Annan said on Friday Ms Suu Kyi needed to be included in the junta's avowed "roadmap to democracy".

1989: Put under house arrest as Burma's leaders declare martial law
1990: National League for Democracy (NLD) wins general election; military does not recognise the result
1991: Wins Nobel Peace Prize
1995: Released from house arrest, but movements restricted
2000-02: Second period of house arrest
May 2003: Detained after clash between NLD and government forces
Sep 2003: Allowed home after medical treatment, but under effective house arrest

"For the democratic process and the reconciliation process to be truly successful, it has to be inclusive and she has a role to play," he said.

Her National League for Democracy party won a landslide election victory in 1990 but the military refused to hand over power.

The anniversary of that victory falls on Saturday, and party members are planning to mark it at their headquarters in Yangon.

"We will wait for her the whole day... hoping that she will join the celebrations," party member Ni Ni Win told the Associated Press news agency.

'New chapter'

Hopes of a release were raised after senior UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari was allowed to meet Ms Suu Kyi last week.

Mr Gambari has said there are signs Burma is seeking to improve its relationship with the international community.

The fact the junta allowed him to meet the pro-democracy leader - he was the first diplomat to do so since 2004 - could indicate Burmese leaders were keen to "open up a new chapter", Mr Gambari said.

Mr Gambari, who also met Gen Than Shwe during his three-day visit, said he thought the Burmese authorities could see the advantages of a new approach.

"I think they recognise that it would be in their benefit, including on issues such as help on HIV and other social, economic and humanitarian problems," he said.

In addition, Burma's police chief, Major-General Khin Yi, told reporters at a police meeting in Kuala Lumpur last week that Ms Suu Kyi's release would not necessarily lead to political instability.

"I don't think there are a lot of supporters for her. Some members of the NLD have resigned."

BBC correspondent Andrew Harding says observers are sceptical about the junta's strategy, arguing that even if Aung San Suu Kyi is released again, it is simply a short-term tactic to buy time and head off criticism from the UN Security Council.

She has been released before only to be detained the moment the regime felt threatened.

Kofi Annan's appeals for Aung San Suu Kyi release

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