Junta Chief Says He’s ‘Trying to Bring Honesty Back to Myanmar Politics’

By The Irrawaddy 24 June 2021

In his latest attempt to justify the Myanmar military’s internationally condemned takeover, coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said in Russia on Wednesday that his regime was simply trying to bring honesty back to democracy in the country, repeating his claim that the previous government won last year’s election by rigging the vote.

In a more than 13-minute-long speech on “The Asia Pacific Region in the Context of Global Politics” at an international security conference in Moscow, Min Aung Hlaing said the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi “made a mockery of democracy” by committing electoral fraud, referring to the NLD’s landslide victory in November’s election.

“Our government just took measures to bring honesty back to our democracy because of the NLD government’s dishonesty,” he said, according to a video of the speech.

Since the day of the coup on Feb. 1, Min Aung Hlaing has repeated his “rigged vote” mantra to anyone who will listen—from military subordinates and their families to junta officials and international visitors. The last time he made the accusation outside the country was at an ASEAN summit in April.

His claims have been rejected by international election monitors.

For all his accusations, in the wake of the coup millions of people took to the streets in anti-regime protests across Myanmar, shouting slogans such as “Respect Our Votes!” As part of his attempt to “bring honesty back to our democracy”, Min Aung Hlaing ordered his troops to open fire on protesters, killing not only demonstrators, but also bystanders and children. As of Wednesday, 877 people had been killed, and thousands more have been detained, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP-Burma), which monitors the regime’s crackdowns. The international community, including the UN, US and EU, have condemned the coup and the regime’s response to the protests. The US and EU have imposed sanctions against the regime’s members.

Over four months on from the coup, Min Aung Hlaing’s regime is still unable to bring the country under its control. Formerly peaceful protesters are now taking up arms in response to military rule and deadly bombings and shootings targeting the regime are now taking place weekly.

Acknowledging the chaos, he said in Moscow on Wednesday: “Currently, Myanmar is trying to be politically stable and peaceful.”

Strengthening bilateral ties

During his stay in Russia, Myanmar’s coup leader on Tuesday met with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, who described Myanmar as Russia’s “time-tested strategic partner and reliable ally in the Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific Region”, adding that the two countries “intend to exert further effort to strengthen the bilateral ties.”

Myanmar coup leader Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Tuesday. / Cincds

The minister, at whose invitation Min Aung Hlaing attended the Moscow conference, said the Myanmar military is equipped with modern arms and military vehicles.

“This is, without doubt, your personal achievement, Mr. General,” Shoigu told the Myanmar junta chief, according to Russian news agency Tass.

Russia is the number two military exporter to Myanmar after China and has stood steadfastly behind the Myanmar regime, along with China, at every UN meeting.

In turn, at the meeting, Min Aung Hlaing thanked the defense minister for the Russian aid that has helped to make the Myanmar military one of the strongest in the Asia-Pacific region.

The meeting confirmed that the Myanmar-Russian friendship “continues and becomes even stronger,” he said.

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