Myanmar’s President Calls for Military Not to Meddle in Politics

By Thiha Lwin 14 February 2020

Naypyitaw – Myanmar’s President U Win Myint quoted General Aung San’s remark urging the military or Tatmadaw not to intervene in politics during a ceremony to unveil an equestrian statue of the general in Naypyitaw on Feb. 13 as Myanmar marked his birthday.

“The Burma Independence Army will not interfere in administration and politics. Generals and rank and file members of the Burma Independence Army shall not be involved with and interfere in party politics and administration,” the president quoted the general saying.

“I have read in a speech of Gen. Aung San that the Tatmadaw was not established for a particular entity, party or group of people,” said U Win Myint.

The government was working to realize the dreams of Gen. Aung San and the ethnic leaders at the time, said the president, vowing to prevent the return of a dictatorial government.

President U Win Myint at the opening ceremony of an equestrian statue of Gen. Aung San in Naypyitaw. / Thiha Lwin / The Irrawaddy

“We are determined to establish a federal democratic union that guarantees fundamental rights for citizens,” said the president.

The National League for Democracy is trying to amend the 2008 Constitution drafted by the military. The military, which holds 25 percent of seats in the national legislature, has opposed the NLD’s efforts, saying they are not in line with constitutional procedures.

At a Tatmadaw press conference on Jan. 23, the vice chairman of the military’s True News Information Team, Major General Tun Tun Nyi, was asked when the military would return to barracks. The general said the Tatmadaw was ready to perform its primary duties only when there was national stability and unity.

“If everyone can accept and work in unity for the common, national interest, we will be ready to perform our primary duty,” the general added.

Ethnic Rakhine lawmaker U Pe Than of Lower House said cooperation between the Tatmadaw and ruling party was essential in the democratization process, including constitutional amendments. But, he said, the reality was the two sides were only focusing on their political aspirations.

A military officer at the opening ceremony of an equestrian statue of Gen. Aung San in Naypyitaw. / Thiha Lwin / The Irrawaddy

“As an ethnic minority representative, I don’t believe what they say. I think they are just soliciting support for themselves,” U Pe Than said.

Political analyst U Than Soe Naing said the military should withdraw from politics gradually to ease the process towards a federal democratic union. “Democracy will only be more meaningful if the Tatmadaw withdraws. The Tatmadaw’s main responsibility is security and defense,” he said.

The military should be under the control of the civilian government, the observer said.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko