The President’s Office Denies Army Chief Threatened a Possible Coup

By Htet Naing Zaw 27 June 2018

NAYPYITAW — Contrary to what an article in the Bangkok Post said, Myanmar Military Chief Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing did not threaten to stage a coup during a meeting early this month with the president, state counselor, vice presidents, and the deputy army chief, according to the President’s Office Director General U Zaw Htay.

On June 23, the paper published ‘UN Envoy Averts Possible Military Coup in Myanmar’ by Larry Jagan. The article mainly stated that during a meeting with State Counselor Daw Aung Suu Kyi, the army commander reacted angrily over the government’s handling of Rakhine issue and he even threatened a coup, quoting several anonymous sources close to the army top brass.

The story came at a time when the government and military were at odds over the state counselor’s decision late last month to form an independent three-person commission of inquiry to investigate rights abuses in Rakhine State since the militant attacks in August. On June 11, military representatives in the Union Parliament objected to plans to include a foreign expert among the three, claiming it would make the country vulnerable to foreign interference and put its sovereignty at risk. As military appointees, their remarks can be interpreted as coming from the commander-in-chief.

“It is totally incorrect what Larry Jagan wrote in his article,” U Zaw Htay told the media in Naypyitaw on Wednesday.

U Zaw Htay, who acts as the government spokesperson, added that the June 8 meeting focused on [Myanmar’s] relations with the international community, the formation of a commission to investigate the Rakhine issue, and security in Rakhine State and along the border.

“There was no bitter argument during the meeting. They discussed these topics comprehensively and made recommendations. There was no angry expression at all that day. [The army chief] did not talk about staging a coup if the government fails to manage properly. And the meeting did not end in a clash. It ended peacefully and with understanding,” he said, adding that he was present in the room on the day of the meeting.

The spokesperson said the government explained in detail during the meeting how it would respond to the actions of international agencies.

“First, we discussed [Myanmar’s] relations with the United Nations and actions of the ICC [International Criminal Court].  [The government] also clarified its intention to form a [Rakhine] investigation commission and include a foreigner on it. The army chief and the deputy army chief showed understanding,” he said.

“The military also is not very pleased with [Larry Jagan’s] story,” he added.

During the meeting on June 8, State Counselor’s Office Minister U Kyaw Tint Swe and Vice Senior-General Soe Win made presentations first, followed by a speech by President U Win Myint. This was followed by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the military chief’s discussions.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.