YANGON, Myanmar, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, newly freed from years of house arrest, appeared in public Saturday and urged her followers to "work in unison."
Suu Kyi addressed thousands of cheering supporters outside her house in Yangon, the city formerly called Rangoon, the BBC reported. Many of them had been waiting for 24 hours for a chance to see and hear her, and some wore T-shirts announcing their support for her.
The 65-year-old leader of the National League for Democracy spent 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest, with her home surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. She appeared about half an hour after several official cars were seen driving into her compound late in the afternoon.
Suu Kyi, who wore a lilac-colored traditional costume and placed a flower from a supporter in her hair, made only brief remarks. She said a more extended conversation would be possible Sunday at the NLD headquarters.
"There is a time to be quiet and a time to talk," she added. "People must work in unison. Only then can we achieve our goal."
The government most recently detained her in May 2003. A year was added after a U.S. supporter swam across a lake to reach her.
The first national elections in 20 years were held last weekend and the government claimed a landslide victory. However, Suu Kyi had called for her party members to boycott the vote and international observers said the election was widely flawed, the BBC said.
Suu Kyi's determination to bring democracy to the country earned her a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and numerous other international awards and accolades.
U.S. President Barack Obama called her "a hero of mine" and responded to her release by the military regime that rules the Asian country formerly known as Burma by calling for the government to free other political prisoners as well.
"The United States welcomes her long overdue release," Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.
"Whether Aung San Suu Kyi is living in the prison of her house, or the prison of her country, does not change the fact that she, and the political opposition she represents, has been systematically silenced, incarcerated, and deprived of any opportunity to engage in political processes that could change Burma. It is time for the Burmese regime to release all political prisoners, not just one.
"The United States looks forward to the day when all of Burma's people are free from fear and persecution."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also called her an inspiration and urged that her release only be a first step, a statement issued by his representative said.
"The secretary-general expects that no further restrictions will be placed on her, and he urges the Myanmar authorities to build on today's action by releasing all remaining political prisoners," his representative said.
"Democracy and national reconciliation require that all citizens of Myanmar are free to participate as they wish in the political life of their country."