Army leader touts election plan on Independence Day

Myanmar’s Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, head of the military council

Myanmar’s ruling military leader, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, detailed plans for an election later this year and called for national unity in a speech yesterday as he led a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of independence from Britain.

He urged other nations and international organizations, as well as his country’s own people, to support “the genuine, discipline-flourishing multiparty democratic system,” a concept the ruling military has defined as its goal since it ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021.

Min Aung Hlaing also announced a pardon for 7,012 prisoners to mark the occasion, along with a partial commutation of the sentences of other inmates not convicted of serious crimes. Some political detainees were among those being released, but there was no sign that the gesture would include Suu Kyi, who has been held virtually incommunicado by the military since it seized power.

The 77-year-old Suu Kyi is serving 33 years imprisonment after being convicted of a series of politically tinged prosecutions brought by the military, including for illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, breaching the country’s official secrets act, sedition, election fraud and corruption charges. She has been held since June in a custom-built bungalow at the main prison in the capital, Naypyitaw, kept company by three women guards but isolated from other prisoners.

Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say the cases against her constitute an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s seizure of power while keeping her from taking part in the election that the military has said would take place by August this year. MDT/AP

Categories Asia-Pacific