ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Myanmar's military says will not unilaterally stage a coup
YANGON: Myanmar's military commander-in-chief gave the assurance on Wednesday (Jan 21) that the military would not unilaterally stage a coup. However, it would not hesitate to step in to restore law and order if the president instructed.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Channel NewsAsia, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing also cautioned that external groups might incite violence ahead of the country's planned general elections at the end of the year.
Thailand's military had staged a coup in May last year, and according to coup leaders it had seized control of the country to restore order and to introduce political reforms.
About two months later, Myanmar's military chief visited Thailand and had expressed his support for the coup.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said: "The military coup in Thailand was without bloodshed. It was done to protect the people. That's why I supported their action. In fact, if you consider carefully, there was simply no other option. They will just need to carry on according to the law."
But the senior general believes Myanmar's military will not have to resort to a coup, due to the country's Constitution. He does not, however, rule out the possibility entirely.
He said: "We cannot override authorities just because they are not in control. When things become really out of control, if the President says the military needs to step in, in that region or state, the military will step in when a state of emergency is declared. If we don't act according to the law, we have to face a lot of consequences."
Myanmar experienced its last coup in 1988. But after more than two decades of military rule that saw the nation become largely cut off by much of the world, the government has since embarked on numerous reform programmes and insists it will not turn back on its transition to democracy. Some, however, remain unconvinced.
Dr Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst, said: "According to opinion, likelihood is 50/50." He said it would depend on how the army leaders interpret and assess the situation of the country.
"From the point of the Myanmar people, they would like to move forward to democracy. But from the perspective of the army and the army leaders, they thought the people are not matured enough to move to democracy ... In the future, if the military leaders fail to interpret the real situation on the ground, the coup can happen anytime," he added.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is aware of how citizens perceive the military. He said it is important to be in touch with the people, as Myanmar matures as a democracy. But the military chief said this does not mean giving in to all the demands of the populace.
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