The Myanmar’s military on Wednesday reiterated that it would hold fresh elections and hand over power to the winning party, and denied that its ouster of the elected government was a coup, reported Reuters. The army also accused protestors of violence and intimidation as demonstrations against the military action continued to jolt the country.
“Our objective is to hold an election and hand power to the winning party,” Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, spokesperson for the ruling council, told the junta’s first news conference since overthrowing Aung Suu Kyi’s government. “We guarantee...that the election will be held.”
The military has not given a date for a new election but has imposed a state of emergency for one year. Zaw Min Tun said that in the meantime, Myanmar’s foreign policy would not change. “It remained open for business and deals would be upheld,” he said.
Asked about the detention of Suu Kyi and the president, Zaw Min Tun dismissed the suggestion that they were in detention, saying they were in their homes for their own security while the law took its course.
The military official criticised the protestors for defying orders, and alleged that they were resorting to violence. He said the campaign of civil disobedience amounted to the illegal intimidation of civil servants. “We will wait patiently,” Zaw Min Tun said. “After that, we will take action according to the law.”
On February 9, Myanmar’s Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing had also defended the military coup in the country, saying that the power grab was justified by the alleged voter fraud in the 2020 elections. Hlaing claimed that the military rule “would be different this time” from the army’s previous 49-year reign, which ended in 2011.
The coup in Myanmar on February 1 followed the landslide victory of National League for Democracy and Suu Kyi in national elections in November, with the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party faring poorly in its key strongholds. The country’s military refused to accept the government, citing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.
The coup has sparked the biggest protests in Myanmar in more than a decade. The army, in turn, has been carrying out nightly arrests and has given itself sweeping powers to detain people and search private property.
On February 14, it published penal code amendments aimed at stifling dissent, reported Reuters. The amendments set out a 20-year prison term for inciting hatred of the government or military or hindering the security forces engaged in “preserving state stability”.