PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Myanmar's foreign minister said Sunday that Aung San Suu Kyi (search) is being kept in custody to protect her from a possible assassination attempt, and added that no time frame can be given for the pro-democracy leader's release.
Foreign Minister Win Aung refused to say who the possible assassins would be or why they would want to target Suu Kyi.
"We have heard there were assassins coming in the country. I don't know who their target will be," the minister told reporters in Phnom Penh where he will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (search) conference beginning Monday.
"We know that whatever happened to her will be real trouble to us. Because everything will be blamed (on) us and there will be attempts to create a situation where the country will be in deep anarchic situation," he said.
Suu Kyi was detained on May 30 after a clash between her supporters and a pro-government crowd in northern Myanmar. She has been kept incommunicado since then, jeopardizing the reconciliation process to end the country's 15-year-old political deadlock.
Although the government has said previously that she is in "protective custody," this is the first time that an assassination theory has been put forward.
Win Aung stressed that the Nobel Peace laureate is not in detention but in custody to make sure that she comes to no "personal harm," adding the government had no intention of harming Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar's national hero, Aung San (search).
"She is our national leader's daughter she is like our sister," he said.
In the meantime, he said, the government cannot give a committed date for her release.
"Don't press us to commit ourselves to a timeframe and date of releasing her ... the important thing is that the will (to free her) is there," he said.
The current junta came to power in 1988 after crushing a pro-democracy movement. It called elections in 1990 but refused to hand over power after Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party won.
She was kept for several years under house arrest, and a U.N.-mediated national reconciliation process started in October 2000 has made little progress.
On Saturday, Myanmar's state-run press blamed Suu Kyi for the May 30 clash that led to her detention, and said the violence showed she was incapable of running the country.
The government says members of Suu Kyi's party instigated the violence when her motorcade was confronted by thousands of military supporters.
But opposition accounts say pro-government thugs ambushed Suu Kyi's motorcade, stabbing and beating her followers.
Her detention has evoked an international outcry from world leaders including President Bush and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan who have demanded her release.
The foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, will meet with foreign ministers of other Asian and Pacific countries on Wednesday at a regional security meeting.