Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi may be freed during the national elections later this year, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said Tuesday, predicting the polling could take place during the second half of 2010.
"What is the gut feeling? Maybe at the time of the declaration or the holding of the elections," he said, responding to a question on when the opposition leader, whose house arrest sentence was recently extended until November, could be freed. "Around that time ... maybe a day after or a day before," Kasit added.
A date has still not been announced for the elections, which will be the first since 1990, when the government refused to recognize the landslide victory of the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Suu Kyi.
Kasit believes that "the elections most probably will be in the second half of the year."
He noted that during meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Myanmar's prime minister had been "giving us the assurance ... that elections will be held this year" and that there will definitely be a "new government."
"He (the prime minister) mentioned about 70 to 80 percent completion of election laws and political party laws and the completion of the parliamentary site in the new capital and so on, so I predict it will take place in the second half of this year," Kasit added.
The foreign minister also cautioned against sanctions as a way to put pressure on the government, saying the tactic has "proven to be a failure."
"Why hurt the Myanmar people?" he said in Geneva.
Isolating Myanmar also risks cornering it "into the arms of certain countries," he warned.
"The Indians and the Chinese don't want to have any sanctions vis-a-vis Myanmar. So in that sense, you allow a special relationship to happen. Would that be detrimental or not to the whole cooperative effort?" he asked.