'Steel Butterfly' begins Europe visit
AFTER years of isolation under house arrest in her native land, Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's opposition leader, could be forgiven for merely basking in the adulation on her first visit to Europe in a quarter of a century.
Instead, the woman known as Burma's Steel Butterfly used her first speech on the continent yesterday to assert her determination to lead her country.
Speaking to a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva on the first working day of her trip, the 67-year-old drew applause as she made clear her role.
"I do not stand here as a representative of the workers, or of employers, or of government." But she added: "Not yet anyway."
It was an unprecedented public admission from the woman who has spent 15 of the past 20 years under some form of house arrest that she now feels that power is within her grasp.
Elected as an opposition MP in April, Ms Suu Kyi currently commands the support of just 10pc of the military-dominated parliament. But given her party's virtual clean sweep of the seats it contested in by-elections, there is a strong possibility that she will emerge as the strongest force in Burmese politics at the next election in 2015.
She said she bore few scars from her treatment as a political dissident and harboured no desire for revenge.
Ms Suu Kyi has embarked on a 17-day tour of Europe in which she will accept the Nobel Peace Prize she was awarded in 1992 before travelling to Britain and Ireland. (© Daily Telegraph, London)