Nay Pyi Taw: Myanmar’s military junta guaranteed that it would hold an election and hand over power, denied its ouster of an elected government was a coup or that its leaders were detained and accused protesters of violence and intimidation.
The junta’s defense of its February 1 seizure of power and arrest of government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others came as protesters again took to the streets and as China dismissed rumors spreading on social media that it had helped with the coup.
“Our objective is to hold an election and hand power to the winning party,” Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, spokesman for the ruling council, told the junta’s first news conference since overthrowing Suu Kyi’s government.
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 the military would not hold power for long.
“We guarantee … that the election will be held,” he told the nearly two-hour news conference, which the military broadcast from the capital, Naypyitaw, live over Facebook, a platform it has banned.
Asked about the detention of Nobel prize winner Suu Kyi and the president, Zaw Min Tun dismissed the suggestion they were in detention, saying they were in their homes for their security while the law took its course.
He also said Myanmar’s foreign policy would not change, it remained open for business and deals would be upheld.
The military will be hoping its reassurances will dampen the campaign of daily opposition to its rule and to the ousting Suu Kyi and her government.
While violence has been limited this time, police have opened fire several times, mostly with rubber bullets, to disperse protesters. Six people were wounded in the central town of Maungmya when police fired rubber bullets to break up a protest over an arrested teacher, a witness said.
The army has given itself extensive search and detention powers and has made penal code amendments aimed at stifling dissent with tough prison terms.