, YANGON, Nov 13 – Hundreds of supporters of Myanmar\’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi gathered Saturday ahead of her expected release from the lakeside home that has been her prison for most of the past two decades.
Under the tropical sun, they waited anxiously outside her party\’s headquarters and her crumbling mansion in the hope of a glimpse of the 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Many wore T-shirts bearing her image and the words: "We stand with Aung San Suu Kyi."
The authorities have said her release is imminent, most likely on Saturday evening, even though some fear the generals may find an excuse to extend it.
"She will be released today," a Myanmar government official told AFP on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Although Myanmar\’s most famous dissident has been in detention for the past seven straight years, sidelined and silenced by the ruling generals, for many in the impoverished nation she still embodies hope of a better future.
"We are praying for her release. We are very excited," said Cho Cho, a 35-year-old housewife in Yangon.
"I don\’t believe she is guilty," said party member Lei Lei. "So I hoped already that every day would be her release day."
Suu Kyi is still seen by many as the biggest threat to the junta after almost five decades of military dictatorship. She has been locked up for 15 of the past 21 years, but her most recent sentence is due to end on Saturday.
Suu Kyi\’s detention was extended last year over a bizarre incident in which an American swam uninvited to her lakeside home, keeping her off the scene for the first election in 20 years.
Dozens of journalists and locals were stationed outside Suu Kyi\’s home as party leaders prepared for her expected release.