Myanmar's junta says will 'strive for democracy' after protesters call for show of defiance

WION Web Team
Yangon, Myanmar Published: Mar 27, 2021, 09:27 AM(IST)

Demonstrations in Myanmar Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing reiterated a promise to hold elections in a speech on Armed Forces Day, after a military parade in the capital Naypyitaw. He, however, gave no date for elections.

The leader of Myanmar's junta said on Saturday that the military would protect people and strive for democracy, as protesters called for a huge show of defiance against the February 1 military coup.

Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing reiterated a promise to hold elections in a speech on Armed Forces Day, after a military parade in the capital Naypyitaw. He, however, gave no date for elections.

"The army seeks to join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy," the general said in a live broadcast on state television, adding that authorities also sought to protect the people and restore peace across the country.

"Violent acts that affects stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate".

The troops killed four more people in demonstrations on Friday, taking the number of deaths to 328 in the crackdown that has followed the coup against Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government.

Also read | Myanmar activists call for anti-coup protest as junta marks Armed Forces Day

Suu Kyi, Myanmar's most popular civilian politician, remains in detention at an undisclosed location. Many other figures in her party are also being held in custody.

A broadcast on the state television on Friday evening said: "You should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back."

This was an indication that the military was determined to prevent any disruptions around Armed Forces Day, which commemorates the start of the military's resistance to Japanese occupation in 1945.

Min Aung Hlaing said the army had to seize power because of "unlawful acts" by Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy, adding that some party leaders had been found guilty of corruption and legal action was being taken against them.

In a week that saw international pressure on the junta ramped up with new US and European sanctions, Russia's deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin attended the parade. On Friday, he met senior junta leaders and offered support for the military.

Also read | Myanmar: Firebomb hurled at Aung San Suu Kyi's party headquarters

Protesters have taken to the streets almost daily since the coup that derailed Myanmar's slow transition to democracy. At least 328 protesters have been killed in the weeks of unrest as of Friday night, according to figures from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group.

The World Bank on Friday slashed its forecast for Myanmar's economy to a 10% contraction in 2021 from the growth expected previously.

(with inputs from agencies)

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