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Aung San Suu Kyi complains of irregular medical visits

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since May 2003 in near complete isolation, is in good health// but wants more regular visits from her personal doctor, United Nations sources said Sunday.

Suu Kyi conveyed her concerns to UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari, who was granted a rare interview with the Nobel peace laureate on Saturday night by Myanmar's ruling junta.

Gambari, who also was allowed to meet Suu Kyi during his previous trip in May, told the visiting UN envoy that she "welcomes continued engagement by the United Nations in hopes that it can be of help in addressing the many issues," said a UN statement issued after their private talks.

Suu Kyi, 61, was arrested in May 2003 on charges of threatening state security and placed under house arrest in her family compound in Yangon, where her personal contacts have been limited to her maid and weekly visits from her doctor.

Even her doctor's visits have been curtailed by authorities in recent weeks, apparently in an effort to put an end to passive protests being carried out by the "1988 Generation Students," a dissident group committed to non-violent tactics.

The group launched a signature campaign last month, gathering signatures from 500,000 people demanding Suu Kyi's release, and more recently held prayer protests against the regime.

The campaigns and Gambari's latest visit come at a pivotal time for Myanmar's ruling military junta, the self-styled State Peace and Development Council (SPDC).

Myanmar's failure to address political and human-rights issues will be on the agenda for the first time at an upcoming UN Security Council meeting.

The session is unlikely to result in new sanctions, with China expected to use its veto power against such a move, but the upcoming meeting has put the junta's failures in the international spotlight.

Th e SPDC is pushing its National Convention process as a solution to introducing eventual political reforms in the country, which has been under military rule since 1962.

The convention is drafting a new constitution, which is to eventually pave the way for general elections, though no deadline has been set.

The process has arguably been underway since 1992, when it was used as an excuse by the junta to ignore the results of the 1990 general election, which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won by a landslide.

On Saturday, Gambari also met with SPDC chief Senior General Than Shwe and Vice Chairman Maung Aye in the country's new capital of Naypyitaw, 300-km north of Yangon.

Their talks covered a range of political and humanitarian issues being raised during Gambari's current mission.

"Gambari was pleased at the willingness of the leadership to continue to engage with the United Nations in this way," said a UN source.

Many opposition figures in Yangon question the accomplishments of the UN's special envoys to Myanmar.

Weeks after Gambari's last visit in May, the junta flatly rejected a personal appeal by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for the release of Suu Kyi from house arrest, instead extending her detention for another year.


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