Myanmar’s military junta promised on Tuesday that there would be an election and it would hand over power as police filed an additional charge against toppled former leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
It also defended its Feb. 1 seizure of power, denying it was a coup even as protesters took to the streets again in support of Suu Kyi and other arrested leaders and China dismissed social media rumours that it had helped with the military’s action.
“Our objective is to hold an election and hand power to the winning party,” Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, spokesman for the ruling council, told the junta’s first news conference since overthrowing Suu Kyi’s government.
The military has not given a date for a new election but has imposed a state of emergency for one year. Zaw Min Tun said the military would not hold power for long.
“We guarantee… that the election will be held,” he told the nearly two-hour news conference, which the military broadcast from the capital, Naypyitaw, live over Facebook, a platform it has banned.
Asked about the detention of Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi and the president, Zaw Min Tun dismissed the suggestion they were in detention, saying they were in their homes for their security while the law took its course.
Suu Kyi, 75, spent nearly 15 years under house arrest for her efforts to end military rule.
She faces charges of illegally importing six walkie-talkie radios and is being held on remand until Wednesday. Her lawyer said on Tuesday police had filed a second charge of violating a Natural Disaster Management Law.
The United States was “disturbed” by reports of the additional criminal charge against Suu Kyi, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. Washington imposed new sanctions last week on the Myanmar military. No additional measures were announced on Tuesday.