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Suu Kyi is hailed as key to national reconciliation

Suu Kyi's release from house arrest has been widely welcomed but now the question is how Myanmar's pro-democracy leader will make her mark in a political landscape that is dominated by the military.

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi enters her party HQ after seven years of house arrest

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi enters her party HQ after seven years of house arrest

The release of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Saturday was greeted by waves of enthusiasm from her supporters outside her University Avenue residence, where she had spent the past seven years under house arrest.

Her first words to the crowd came after the noise died down a little. She told thousands of fans that there was a time to be silent and there was a time for talk, and called on the people to work together to achieve their goals.

Thousands celebrated outside Suu Kyi's home on the weekend

Thousands celebrated outside Suu Kyi's home on the weekend

An outpouring of support came from all over the world. In a statement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the authorities to free the remaining political prisoners in Myanmar (also known as Burma). Rights groups estimate the number of political prisoners at 2,200.

Important step towards national reconciliation

Thailand said that Aung San Suu Kyi's release marked another important step in national reconciliation and democratization process in Myanmar; while Australia called on the military to embark on an "inclusive and genuine process of national reconciliation."

"I am extremely happy for her release along with the Burmese people," said Bo Kyi, the joint secretary for the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma).

"Now thousands of people are singing to Daw Aung Sang Suu Kyi in Burma. She will do her best for national reconciliation and then to restore democracy and human rights in Burma."

Aung San Suu Kyi is single most-unifying force

In polls earlier this month, Myanmar's pro-junta parties won most of the votes

In polls earlier this month, Myanmar's pro-junta parties won most of the votes

Myanmar is wracked by division, especially following the recent national elections that led to pro-military parties close to General Than Shwe taking the lion's share of the vote. Several political parties, including other pro-military parties, have already lodged complaints over the vote.

"Aung San Suu Kyi is the single most-unifying force in Burma," explained Debbie Stothardt, spokeswoman for the Alternative ASEAN Network.

"Burma really needs someone like Aung San Suu Kyi to be able to travel around, to be able to have a dialogue with all the stakeholders and to put fresh energy back into the movement. For many people, Aung San Suu Kyi is part of a much needed solution."

For the moment, Aung San Suu Kyi's role in Myanmar's political landscape rests on talks with NLD leaders and supporters. The military will be keeping a beady eye on all developments.

Author: Ron Corben
Editor: Arun Chowdhury

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