Pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house arrest in Burma.

The development came after barricades were removed from the front of her home and police who had been stationed there left their posts.

Amnesty International said she walked to freedom amid massive cheers from over 1,000 supporters.

Ms Suu Kyi is reported to have told the crowd: 'We must work together in unison to achieve our goal.'

She smiled broadly as she appeared at the gate of her compound.

Supporters had been waiting most of the day to see the 65-year-old, who walked out in a traditional jacket and a garland fixed in her hair.

She asked them to gather again at noon tomorrow (6am Irish time), when she is expected to deliver an address.

After her release, senior leaders from her National League for Democracy party arrived at the house as Ms Suu Kyi prepared to hold her first party meeting in seven years.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has spent 15 of the past 21 years in detention.

Analysts said it was likely only Senior General Than Shwe, a central figure in the country's military junta, and his closest allies knew the next steps for Ms Suu Kyi.

Freeing the pro-democracy leader could divert some attention from an election held last week, won by the army-backed party, which has been widely dismissed as a sham to cement military power under a facade of democracy.

Ms Suu Kyi was just a few weeks away from being released last year when an unexpected visit by an American intruder, John Yettaw, robbed her of her freedom.

She was found guilty of harbouring Mr Yettaw for two days, which breached a 1970s law protecting the state against ‘subversive elements’.

Fulfilling a father's leagacy

Ms Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon in June 1945. She is a daughter of General Aung San, an independence hero assassinated in 1947. Her mother, Khin Kyi, was also a prominent figure.

She studied politics in New Delhi and philosophy, politics and economics at Britain's Oxford University. In 1972, she married British academic Michael Aris.

Mr Suu Kyi returned to Rangoon in April 1988 to take care of her dying mother at a time of countrywide pro-democracy protests against the army regime.

Keen to continue her father's legacy, she entered politics and helped set up the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, becoming its secretary-general and calling for an end to military rule.

The junta placed the charismatic and popular Ms Suu Kyi under house arrest in July 1989 for ‘endangering the state’. The next year, without her, the NLD won 392 of 485 parliamentary seats in Myanmar's first election in almost 30 years. The military refused to relinquish power.

Her husband died in Britain in 1999. Suu Kyi declined an offer from the junta to go to Britain for his funeral, fearing she would not be allowed back if she left.

She was initially freed in 1995, but was not allowed to travel outside Rangoon to meet supporters.

A pro-junta gang attacked a convoy carrying Suu Kyi, top party officials and supporters near Depayin town in 2003. The junta said four people were killed. Rights groups said as many as 70 were killed in the ambush. She was detained again soon after.

She was found guilty on 11 August 11 2009 of breaking a security law by allowing John Yettaw to stay at her lakeside home for two nights. Critics said the charges were trumped up to stop her from having any influence over the polls.

She has since made several offers to the junta to lobby the international community to lift a wide range of sanctions on the country, most of which have been in place for more than two decades.

Junta strongman Than Shwe never responded and the regime described her move as ‘insincere’ and ‘dishonest’.

Ms Suu Kyi's said she ‘would not dream’ of taking part in last Sunday's election and her NLD boycotted the vote. As a result, the party was officially dissolved.

A breakaway NLD faction did contest, but won only a handful of seats.