Army ‘Condemns’ NLD Assumption of Military Involvement in Presidential Resignation Rumors

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 5 May 2017

RANGOON — Burma’s military has “seriously condemned” the ruling party’s spokesperson assumption of military involvement in spreading rumors concerning the resignation of the country’s President, saying that they will make the “necessary responses.”

On Thursday, the National League for Democracy (NLD) party’s U Win Htein gave a media briefing on the rumors regarding President U Htin Kyaw.

“It’s difficult to say [who is behind the rumor] as we are flooded with information. It’s hard to guess if it was [spread] by the USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party] or some military organizations, or IT guys who hate us,” U Win Htein told The Irrawaddy.

A press release by the Military Information Team on Friday afternoon stated that “a groundless reply based on suspicion seriously harms the military’s dignity,” regarding the NLD spokesperson’s comment.

The statement suggested that U Win Htein had “encouraged journalists to breach the Burmese media law that dictates reporters refrain from hurting…an organization’s dignity.” It added that the military “seriously condemned the groundless accusation. ”

Such an act, the military said, “could harm national unity, especially during a time when the government is committed to national reconciliation,” adding, “we will make the necessary responses.”

U Win Htein was not immediately available for comment on Friday.

The military’s response on Friday is the military’s first open condemnation of the NLD since 2012, when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi publicly reached out to the army for purposes of national reconciliation.

Mindful of the powerful role the Tatmadaw plays—from the 25 percent of lawmakers appointed by the military to the Parliament, to the three military-controlled ministries related to security issue—the Nobel Laureate had several meetings with military chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing in recent years, presumably to build trust.

The army condemnation comes at a time when the relations between the senior general and State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi appear to have stalled given the army’s hardline approach concerning ethnic armed groups in the country’s peace process, an initiative now topping the State Counselor’s priority list.

Once internationally criticized for human rights abuses in ethnic areas and general oppression of Burma’s citizens, the Tatmadaw today is more likely to respond to criticism that could harm their image. The military recently made a complaint over satire that questioned the country’s ongoing peace process.