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Suu Kyi takes the long road

Yangon, May 6 (Reuters): Myanmar Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi marked one year of freedom from house arrest today with a trip outside Yangon but still frustrated that her calls for democracy appear to be falling on deaf ears.

The military government had raised expectations of talks on political change when it freed the 57-year-old Nobel laureate last year, allowing her to travel freely throughout the country. But the junta has not responded to Suu Kyi's calls for dialogue.

Suu Kyi, who travelled to the northwestern Kachin State today for a month-long visit, her longest trip since her release, said of the military two weeks ago: “They don’t want change, but change is inevitable”.

U Lwin, the spokesman for Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), said the junta had allowed his party to reopen township offices in the last year, had freed hundreds of political prisoners and let NLD members organise activities.

But meaningful dialogue with the junta remained elusive.

“If they are serious about dialogue they need to inform us officially about their desire,” U Lwin said. “We haven’t received anything about this. Maybe we will.”

U Lwin said Suu Kyi’s trips outside Yangon had been a success.

“Suu Kyi herself can enjoy freedom of movement and deal with the people more closely, and she’s seen how the people look up to her,” he said. “It really makes her more committed to work for the people.”

The NLD won 1990 elections by a landslide but has never been allowed to rule by the military, which has ruled the country in various guises for over 40 years.

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