Saturday, April 16, 2011

Myanmar democracy icon greets well-wishers on New Year

Apr 16, 2011, 11:36 GMT 

Yangon - Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a surprise move Saturday used the last day of Myanmar's traditional New Year festival to greet well-wishers outside her home.
Suu Kyi, surrounded by her personal security guards, appeared outside her family compound in Yangon at 4:00 pm to wish people passing by a happy Thingyan - Myanmar's traditional New Year, also called the water festival.
Hundreds of people stopped their cars to get out and shake hands with Myanmar's best known opposition leader who was released from six years of house detention on November 13.
'She is in very good health. That's why she is able to meet with the people enjoying Thingyan,' her personal doctor Tin Myo Win said.
Suu Kyi, 65, the daughter of Myanmar independence hero Aung San, has spent about 15 of the past 20 years under house arrest.
'Auntie Su, happy new year,' people cheered.
One young woman shed tears after shaking hands with her.
'I am very happy to see Auntie Su. This is a surprise meeting,' said a man in his thirties, who asked to remain anonymous.
Suu Kyi leads the National League for Democracy (NLD), which was effectively blocked from contesting the military's general election on November 7. Suu Kyi was still under house detention during the polls.
With her party now officially dissolved and a newly elected government in place, Suu Kyi faces a tough challenge in continuing to play the pivotal role as the country's main voice of opposition to military rule, albeit through an elected regime, observers said.
About 80 per cent of the new cabinet comprise former or still serving military men. Myanmar has been under military dictatorship since 1962. The new constitution assures the military a lead role in an elected government.
Myanmar's four-day water festival started on Wednesday and ends Saturday. Thailand, Laos and Cambodia hold similar celebrations. 

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