More than 200 journalists, diplomats and supporters continued to wait at 7 p.m. On Friday near the home of Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in anticipation of her release.
Nyan Win, Suu Kyi's lawyer, earlier said that she would not accept a conditional release and that her detention could no longer be extended since her sentence is due to expire at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Her release will come just a few days after the country's military regime held an election marred by reports of widespread vote rigging. Her deputy, Tin Oo, said that the release order has been already signed but she is more likely to be released on Saturday morning.
As news of her possible release spread, about 1,000 of her local supporters gathered at the NLD headquarters in Rangoon, and many supporters from other parts of the country began traveling to the former capital, Rangoon sources said.
Faced with widespread public resentment of the results of the Sunday elections which produced the landslide victory for the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the regime is expected to impose restrictions on Suu Kyi's movements even if she is unconditionally released.
“The junta would surely attempt to restrict her [Suu Kyi's] movements so that she cannot reach out to the public and ethnic minority groups.” said Nyan Win. “ She would not accept such restrictions.”
This would, however, raise the possibility of a new round of confrontations between Suu Kyi and the country's military leaders. After being freed from house arrest in 2002, she faced a 2003 assassination attempt near Depayin.
Suu Kyi's NLD—which was officially disbanded for failing to register for this year's controversial election—boycotted the election, saying it was held under undemocratic conditions. In the 1990 election, the NLD won an overwhelming majority of the vote, but the junta officially nullified the results.
The National Democratic Force, an NLD splinter group comprised of former leading NLD members, participated in the polls and was roundly defeated by the junta-backed United Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which allegedly benefited from widespread vote rigging.
On Thursday, Burma's state media announced that the USDP has gained majorities in both houses of parliament.
Over the past 20 years, Suu Kyi has unsuccessfully called for dialogue with the military junta in an attempt to break the country's political deadlock. Observers question whether that call will remain relevant given that the election results have paved the way for continued military rule by members of the current junta, which will control the new parliament with a civilian facade.
The 65-year-old Nobel laureate has been released twice before in the 15 years of the past 21 that she has spent under house arrest.
In Aug. 2009, Suu Kyi's current period of detention was extended by 18 months over a bizarre incident in which an American swam uninvited to her lakeside home.
Despite Suu Kyi's expected release, the junta continues to detain more than 2,100 political prisoners, including prominent former student leaders who have been sentenced to up to 60 years imprisonment.
“We are expecting her clear leadership as all of us are confused and angry with the elections. We will see how she will cope with the illegal status of the party [NLD] and respond to the election results and the new government,” a Suu Kyi supporter in Rangoon said.