Myanmar military rebukes foreign embassies, denies impeding transition

Military supporters carry Myanmar's national flags during a protest in Yangon on Jan 30, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

YANGON (REUTERS) - Myanmar's military, which last week declined to rule out a coup to overturn an election result it disputes from last year, said on the eve of the first gathering of the new parliament that it remains committed to democracy.

The new parliament is due to meet on Monday for the first time since the November election, which was won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi's party, but which the military says was marred by fraud.

A group of Western powers including the United States issued a joint statement on Friday warning against "any attempt to alter the outcome of the elections or impede Myanmar's democratic transition".

In a statement on Sunday (Jan 31), the military accused the foreign diplomats of making "unwarranted assumptions".

The military "will do everything possible to adhere to the democratic norms of free and fair elections, as set out by the 2008 Constitution, lasting peace, and inclusive well-being and prosperity for the people of Myanmar," it said in the statement, posted on Facebook.

Tanks were deployed in some streets last week and pro-military demonstrations have taken place in some cities ahead of the first gathering of parliament. The army said on Tuesday it would "take action" against the election result, and when asked if it was planning a coup, a spokesman declined to rule it out.

The statement on Sunday did not directly address the issue of such action or of a coup.

Under the 2008 constitution, the military has gradually relinquished power to democratic institutions. But it retains privileges including control of the security forces and some ministries.

Legal complaints over the election are pending at the Supreme Court. The election commission has rejected the military's allegations of vote fraud, saying there were no errors big enough to affect the credibility of the vote.

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