Myanmar’s military junta has denied that the ouster of an elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi was a coup or that the government leaders were detained, insisting that the military would only hand over power after a fresh election in the country.
The junta’s justification of its Feb. 1 seizure of power and arrest of government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and others came as protesters again took to the streets and after a U.N. envoy warned the army of “severe consequences” for any harsh response to the demonstrations.
The junta’s ruling council spokesperson, Brigadier-General, Zaw Min Tun, accused protesters of violence and intimidation, adding that the move to seize power was borne out of right the wrongs from the last election.
Addressing its first news conference on Monday since overthrowing Suu Kyi’s government, Min Tun said that the ruling council is to hold fresh election devoid of fraud and hand over the winning party.
“Our objective is to hold an election and hand power to the winning party,” Brigadier General Min Tun, told the junta’s first news conference on Tuesday.
The military has not given a date for a new election but it has imposed a state of emergency for one year. Zaw Min Tun said the military would not hold power for long.
“We guarantee … that the election will be held,” he told the nearly two-hour news conference, which the military broadcast from the capital, Naypyitaw, live over Facebook, a platform it has banned.
Asked about the detention of Nobel prize winner Suu Kyi and the president, Zaw Min Tun dismissed the suggestion that they were in detention, saying that they were in their homes for their security while the law took its course.
He also said Myanmar’s foreign policy would not change, and would remained open for business and deals would be upheld.
The military will be hoping its reassurances will dampen the campaign of daily opposition to its rule and to the ousting Suu Kyi and her government.
As well as the demonstrations in towns and cities across the ethnically diverse country, a civil disobedience movement has brought strikes that are crippling many functions of government.
The unrest has revived memories of bloody outbreaks of opposition to almost half a century of direct army rule that ended in 2011 when the military began a process of withdrawing from civilian politics.
But violence has been limited this time though police have opened fire several times, mostly with rubber bullets, to disperse protesters.