x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UN chief urges release of Suu Kyi

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he asked the head of Myanmar's ruling junta for permission to see Aung San Suu Kyi but is still waiting for a reply.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he asked the head of Myanmar's ruling junta today for permission to see democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi but is still waiting for a reply. Ban said he had also reiterated to military ruler Than Shwe that the regime must free the opposition leader and all other political prisoners ahead of elections due next year. "I told him that I wanted to meet her in person," Mr Ban told reporters in the capital Naypyidaw on the first day of a two-day visit to the country. "He told me that she is on trial but I told him this is my proposal, this is important and I am waiting for their consideration and reply." Asked how soon he expected a response from the junta on his request to see her, Mr Ban said with a smile: "I am leaving tomorrow, so logically speaking I am waiting for a reply before my departure." Mr Ban said he had also sought the release of the more than 2,000 political prisoners that the UN says are held in Myanmar ? including Aung San Suu Kyi ? ahead of elections promised by the ruling generals in 2010. Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is currently being held in prison during her ongoing trial for breaching the terms of her house arrest. She has been in detention or under house arrest for most of the last 20 years. "I proposed and I urged that all political prisoners should be released before this election begins, so that this election can be all inclusive," Mr Ban said. Reclusive Than Shwe appeared before reporters with Mr Ban at the start of the meeting, dressed in an olive green uniform, but did not speak. "I have had a very frank and extensive exchange of views on all the matters of the spectrum of issues pertaining to Myanmar," Mr Ban said. * AFP