Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Military chief reiterates hope for free, fair election

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and military dignitaries seen at a press conference on September 21 (Photo-EMG)
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Defence Services, said the military would do everything it could to ensure that the upcoming election is free and fair.

Min Aung Hlaing met with journalists and some members of the interim Myanmar Press Council in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.

When asked by Kyaw Swar Min from the Myanmar Journalist Association if the military was sure to say that the forthcoming election would be free and fair, the senior general said: "Our military will do as much as it can to ensure a free and fair election. But in some areas that still have clashes with ethnic armed groups, threats were reported. We will also deal with this. The decision will be made by the state and election commission."

"It's not a good thing if there is any doubt [about the military's position on the election]. I have already said the election must be free and fair. I have also instructed my military units to ensure this."

When asked about constitutional change, he said unity was necessary in the practice of democracy, recounting that sections 436 (a), 107 (b) and 141 (b) will be changed with the passing of time. The military, he said, would not unilaterally refuse to amend the constitution.

He has previously said change would take five or 10 years depending on the situation, but he wanted it happen as soon as possible.

Talking about internal peace, Min Aung Hlaing stressed the importance of mutual trust between parties.

"In our inter-military meetings on peace issues, I always said our military is ready for peace. We do things without doubts. But I can't help it if the other side has doubts. In a democratic country, we should not embrace the concept of taking up arms. That was why the military handed over three branches of power. I don't say we are perfect. Now is the best time, however. I hope the ethnic groups will cooperate with us without doubts. Some groups want to enjoy peace, while some are unsure," said the military chief.

When asked if journalists would be allowed to observe polling booths in battalions and regiments, he said they would be allowed in accordance with the rules and regulations set by the Union Election Commission.

Hla Hla Htay from the Myanmar Foreign Correspondents Club said: "As the election nears, people are raising concerns over the military's extended wings in the executive sector and possible power seizure. Protests are seen these days against appointment of military personnel in government ministries."

She then asked if there would be more such appointments.

In response, the Senior General said: "Everyone is interested in this question. I was frequently asked here and when I went abroad. No way! There were only two military coups in 1962 and 1988. That means power takeover when there was no government. However, I don't like coups. This is my true will. The military is an organisation formed in accordance with rules and disciplines. It has to work in a disciplined manner. Saying briefly, there will be no such a plan (coup)."

As to military appointments in ministries, he said it was according to the civil service law and done after scrutiny by the military and the Civil Service Selection and Training Board.

He however said: "I am sorry for this. Whenever demanded, I did not give our military personnel to be appointed in ministries. Later on, I will act in accord with the law. I will make sure the military takes no special privileges. The appointments were made accordingto the demand."

Post a Comment