The United States has condemned a decision to extend the detention of Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The decision by military leaders in the country, formerly known as Burma, to keep the Nobel Peace Prize laureate under house arrest was announced on Monday.
"The extension of Aung San Suu Kyi's detention is yet another step in the wrong direction by Burma's military rulers. In order to move the country toward democracy and national reconciliation, the Burmese regime should release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, and initiate a meaningful dialogue with the democratic opposition and ethnic minority political groups," said the State Department in a statement.
Suu Kyi, 60, has spent 10 of the last 16 years in detention.
Her latest detention period began in May 2003 after a clash between members of her National League for Democracy party and pro-government groups.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the U.S. "deplores" the extension of her detention. The United Nations and the European Commission have also strongly criticized the decision.
Aung San Suu Kyi's NLD party won Myanmar's 1990 election but was never allowed to govern.
The decision to prolong her detention comes days before Burma resumes its National Convention on Dec. 5, where handpicked delegates are drafting a new constitution as part of the junta's "road map" to democracy.
The convention, which is being boycotted by the NLD, has been widely dismissed by the international community for its exclusion of opposition and ethnic minority groups.
with files from the Australian Broadcasting CorporationCopyright ©2005 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - All Rights Reserved