Myanmar junta chief calls for unity, says military holding power ‘temporarily’

Myanmar junta chief calls for unity, says military holding power ‘temporarily’
Myanmar junta chief calls for unity, says military holding power ‘temporarily’

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Myanmar’s junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who ousted the elected government in a coup on February 1, 2021, presides over an army parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27, 2021. — Reuters file pic

NAYPYIDAW, March 27 — Myanmar’s ruling general said today the junta was holding power only temporarily with the aim of strengthening democracy, and he called for unity among the people and military to fight armed groups seeking to derail plans to hold an election.


Addressing an annual Armed Forces Day parade, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who led a coup in 2021, said his opponents were receiving foreign backing and trying to destroy the country and thwart plans to return Myanmar to democratic rule.

“The military, police force and people’s militia are working to restore peace and stability,” he told hundreds of soldiers in the capital Naypyidaw. “We need to have unity between the military and the people.”

The military is facing its biggest challenge since first taking power in the former British colony in 1962, fighting on multiple fronts to contain uprisings in several parts of the country and stabilise an economy that has wilted since the coup.


Myanmar is locked in a civil war between the military on one side and, on the other, a loose alliance of ethnic minority rebels and an armed resistance movement spawned out of the junta’s bloody crackdown on anti-coup protests.

The military has been accused by activists and some Western countries of committing systematic atrocities in its efforts to suppress the rebellion, with widespread use of air strikes and heavy artillery in civilian areas and allegations of arbitrary arrests, torture and executions.

The junta has dismissed those accusations as falsehoods.


‘Foreign interference’

Min Aung Hlaing said today opponents were committing violence, looting and spreading hate, and that the military was being targeted by fake news from international journalists and social media users.

“Some powerful nations,” he added, were trying to interfere with Myanmar’s internal affairs by helping armed groups fighting the military. He did not cite evidence.

He also urged veterans to re-enlist as part of a new conscription drive.

“They are providing aid to those organisations in various methods. They are trying to destroy and weaken the organisations protecting the interests of the people .... So members of security forces need to be united,” he said.

He reiterated that the military had seized power because a 2020 election was marred by fraud, with nearly 30% of ballots invalid. The party of Aung San Suu Kyi, which won that vote in a landslide, has denied that accusation. Suu Kyi is currently in prison, sentenced to 27 years for various alleged offences.

Min Aung Hlaing said the next election, for which he provided no time frame, would be held under a mixed-member proportional representation system that would be more inclusive.

In a statement to mark Armed Forces Day, Britain’s Minister for the Indo-Pacific, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said people were suffering “horrendous acts of violence at the military regime’s hands”. Canada’s embassy said it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing atrocities” perpetrated by the military. — Reuters

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