Myanmar’s military leader vows to hold elections in two years

Myanmar’s military leader vows to hold elections in two years

Six months after taking power from the elected government, Myanmar’s military leader has reiterated his promise to hold new elections in two years and cooperate with Southeast Asian nations to find a political solution for his country.

“We must create the conditions to hold free and fair multi-party general elections,” Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said during a televised speech. “We have to make preparations. I promise to hold the multiparty general elections without fail. “

The military authorities “would comply with the provisions of the state of emergency by August 2023,” he said.

A state of emergency was declared when troops mobilized against the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, an action the generals said was allowed by the 2008 military-authored constitution. The army claimed that its landslide victory in last year’s national elections was achieved through massive electoral fraud, but has not provided credible evidence.

The military government officially annulled the election results last Tuesday and appointed a new electoral commission to take over the ballot box.

The military takeover was met with massive public protests that resulted in a lethal crackdown by security forces who routinely fire live ammunition into the crowd.

As of Sunday, authorities have killed 939 people since February 1, according to a count kept by the independent Association for the Assistance to Political Prisoners. Casualties are also increasing among the military and police as armed resistance grows in both urban and rural areas.

Movements by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to mediate a dialogue between the military government and its opponents have stalled after an agreement at an April summit in Jakarta to appoint a special envoy for Myanmar.

Min Aung Hlaing said that among the three nominees, Thailand’s former Deputy Foreign Minister Virasakdi Futrakul was selected as the envoy.

“But for various reasons, new proposals were launched and we were unable to move forward. I would like to say that Myanmar is willing to work on ASEAN cooperation within the ASEAN framework, including dialogue with the ASEAN special envoy in Myanmar, ”he said.

ASEAN foreign ministers were expected to discuss Myanmar in virtual meetings this week hosted by Brunei, the current president of the 10-nation bloc.

Myanmar is also struggling with its worst Covid-19 outbreak that has overwhelmed its already crippled healthcare system. Limitations on oxygen sales have led to widespread accusations that the military is directing supplies to government supporters and military-run hospitals.

At the same time, medical workers have been targeted by the authorities after leading a civil disobedience movement that urged professionals and public officials not to cooperate with the government.

Min Aung Hlaing blamed the public’s mistrust of the military’s efforts to control the outbreak of “fake news and misinformation via social media,” and accused those behind using COVID-19 “as a bioterrorism tool. ”.

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