YANGON: Myanmar’s military said yesterday (Saturday) said it would protect and abide by the country’s constitution and act according to law, amid concerns that the armed forces might attempt to seize power.
In an official statement, the military, known locally as the Tatmadaw, said recent remarks by its commander-in-chief, Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing, about abolishing the constitution had been misinterpreted.
“The Tatmadaw is protecting the 2008 constitution and will act according to the law,” it said. “Some organisations and media assumed what they want and wrote [as if] the Tatmadaw will abolish the constitution.
”The ruling National League for Democracy Party (NLD), which won the Nov 8 election in a landslide, said the military’s statement was a “suitable explanation”.
NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt told Reuters the party wanted the military to be an organisation “that accepts the people’s desire regarding the election”.
Political tensions escalated this week when a military spokesman declined to rule out a coup, just days ahead of a new parliament convening, and warned the armed forces could “take action” if its complaints about vote fraud were not addressed.
Myanmar-based analyst Richard Horsey said an imminent coup now seemed unlikely.
“It appears that Myanmar military has stepped back from its coup threat,” he said on Twitter. “How to interpret that, and what it means for stability going forward, depends on the behind the scenes details that aren’t clear yet.”
The election commission on Thursday rejected the military’s allegations of vote fraud, saying there were no errors big enough to affect the credibility of the vote.
On Friday, the Supreme Court postponed a decision on whether to accept a petition by the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which called for action against the country’s figurehead president and election commission chief.
The army’s repeated allegations of irregularities in the election, in which the NLD won 83% of seats, have led to the most direct confrontation yet between the civilian government and the military, which has an awkward power-sharing agreement.
The constitution reserves 25% of the seats in parliament for the military and control of three key ministries in the administration of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Senior Gen Min Aung Hlaing added to the coup fears when he told military personnel on Wednesday that the constitution should be repealed if it was not abided by, citing previous instances when charters had been abolished in Myanmar.
In Saturday’s statement, the military said his remarks were intended “to make them understand the situation of the constitution”.
The comments drew widespread criticism in the global community, with the United Nations and some foreign embassies saying the country’s elected government needed to reaffirm its commitment to democracy. – TNR staff and Reuters