On Wednesday (Feb 17), forces opposed to the coup in Myanmar called for more large-scale protests to debunk claims from the army that there is little support for leader Aung San Suu Kyi, according to a Reuters report.

The junta held its first media conference on Tuesday to announce that a fair election would be called and that an additional charge had been filed against the leader.

A spokesman for the ruling council, told the junta’s first news conference, Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, “Our objective is to hold an election and hand power to the winning party.”

While the general did not say when the elections would be held, he said the army would relinquish power before long.

However, the last time the army was in power, it lasted for almost 50 years, until a transition to a democracy started in 2011. 

Activists opposed to the coup also voiced their doubts concerning whether a fair election could be held.

Ms Suu Kyi, 75, who was elected as the country’s State Counsellor in 2016, is said to be detained under house arrest since the coup that occurred on Feb 1. She has been charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios.

The new charge against her is for violating a Natural Disaster Management Law.

She is due in court for a hearing on March 1.

Calls to protest anew have been aired on Facebook, with one activist, Kim Sandar, writing “Let’s gather in millions to take down the dictators.”

“Let’s march en masse. Let’s show our force against the coup government that has destroyed the future of youth, the future of our country,” said Kyi Toe, a senior member of Ms Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).

People have taken to the streets every day since Feb 6, with some demonstrations amassing hundreds of thousands of people.

The coup has also been roundly criticised by many from the west, especially with the new charge against the elected leader.

Washington and London have expressed disapproval, and China’s ambassador in Myanmar set aside accusations of support for the military coup.

Authorities in Myanmar have arrested hundreds of people, including the leadership of the NLD, although Mr Toe is still at liberty.

Over 450 people are said to have been rounded up, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

This number could actually be bigger, as another night of internet blackout means there is no news of new arrests.

Myanmar’s ousted president, is also under house arrest, and is facing charges under the natural disaster law.

Along with the protests, a civil disobedience movement is growing and has staged strikes that have affected government functions. 

Some of the demonstrations have turned violent, with one protestor in Naypyitaw last week shot in the head in what is expected to be a fatal incident. 

In Maungmya, when police fired rubber bullets at demonstrators, six were injured in a protest over a teacher who had been arrested. According to the army, the demonstrators had thrown stones at the police, causing some to get injured.

One policeman died from injuries from a protest in Mandalay.


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