Fugitive leader of far-right party to hold pro-military rally in Naypyitaw 

The far-right Yeomanry Development Party (YDP) says that its leader, Michael Kyaw Myint, will personally attend a pro-military rally in Naypyitaw later this month, despite being wanted by police on three charges.

According to Moe Moe Khaing, a member of the YDP’s central executive committee, Michael Kyaw Myint will lead the event, which will take place near the office of the armed forces commander-in-chief on January 29.

She said the rally—to be held under the banner, “For the patriotic army to protect the country according to the 2008 Constitution”—will include the presentation of an award to Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing.

“We’re giving it directly to the hands of the commander-in-chief,” she said, adding that invitations have already been sent.

There are concerns that the planned rally could interfere with the opening of the next session of parliament, which is set to take place on February 1.

Michael Kyaw Myint is a controversial figure who has faced multiple charges for inciting unrest and defaming his political opponents. 

On January 19, he was hit with a lawsuit for sedition under article 124(a) of the penal code by the South Dagon township administrator in Yangon.

Just one week earlier, he was charged with violating article 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law for staging an unauthorized solo protest in Yangon’s Kyauktada township.

His party also held a rally on December 28 accusing the Union Election Commission of rigging last year’s election, which delivered a resounding defeat to the military’s proxy party.

Moe Moe Khaing, who organized that event, is currently being sued for exceeding the permitted number of protestors in defiance of Covid-19 restrictions.

A warrant has also been issued against Michael Kyaw Myint for defamation under section 505(b) of the penal code due to his campaign activities in Sagaing region’s Khin Oo township in October.

In August of last year, the YDP was among 34 parties that met with Min Aung Hlaing ahead of the November 8 election. A photo of the senior general with Michael Kyaw Myint provoked a backlash on social media at the time.

The far-right firebrand first came to national attention in May 2019, when he led an anti-Muslim mob that harassed residents of Yangon’s South Dagon township. He served a year in prison for that incident.

Analysts say that the January 29 protest is intended to demonstrate the government’s powerlessness to reign in the military and its supporters.

“This is an event that’s trying to create more tension between the military and the government. I don’t think the government will tolerate this,” said well-known Yangon-based lawyer Kyi Myint.

Moe Moe Khaing acknowledged that the rally would likely lead to new charges against the party and its leaders, but appeared unconcerned.

“Once this important event on January 29, which will be beneficial to the country, is over, we’ll face these charges,” she said, adding that there might be issues with the police on the way.

Myanmar Now reached out to military spokesperson Brig-Gen Zaw Min Htut for comment, but did not receive a reply.

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