Min Aung Hlaing’s election remarks violate law, says President’s Office

Recent statements by Tatmadaw commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing are not in accordance with the law, the spokesperson for the President’s Office said at a press conference in Naypyitaw on Wednesday.

In an interview with a local media outlet on Tuesday, Min Aung Hlaing urged the Union Election Commission (UEC) to be “careful,” suggesting that the commission was not doing enough to ensure that the upcoming election would be free and fair.

His remarks echoed a similar warning made by the military the day before.

In the interview, Min Aung Hlaing said there were doubts about the outcome of the 2015 election, but the UEC quashed them by telling all parties to accept the official figures.

“The UEC issued a statement, and we were told to accept the result when it came out. Now we have to be cautious, because I don’t want something like this to happen again. This is why I’m urging the UEC to be careful,” Min Aung Hlaing said.

At the press conference on Wednesday, President’s Office spokesperson Zaw Htay said the commander-in-chief’s remarks violated the Civil Services Personnel Law, which applies to military as well as civilian personnel.

According to article 26(a) of the law, “Civil services personnel must be free from political affiliation,” said Zaw Htay.

He added that some of the information conveyed by the military chief was inaccurate and based solely on hearsay. He added that the public needed to be aware of coordinated efforts to disrupt the election.

“Some things are intentional and deliberate. There have been some carefully timed attempts to disrupt the election, meaning that the situation is not normal and the public has to be careful,” Zaw Htay said without elaborating.

Some political leaders and members of the public have also expressed concern about the military’s recent actions.

Asked if there were plans for the government and the military to negotiate on the current situation, Zaw Htay responded that the UEC was the sole organization responsible for making major decisions about the election.

The government’s role, he said, was simply to ensure that the election runs smoothly.

Myanmar Now also asked if there would be discussions between the government and the military about how the country could move forward on the path of democracy after the election. He replied that nothing was clear at this point.

“The rule of the game is the 2008 constitution. Everything will roll out according to this game’s rules. If not, the game will be destroyed. No one can say for sure what will happen, including us,” said Zaw Htay.

He reiterated, however, that ensuring a free and fair election is the government’s main policy.

Advance polling has already begun for the November 8 election. Those eligible to cast their votes early include citizens who are unable to return to their hometowns because of Covid-19, anyone over the age of 60, and employees who have to work on the day of the election.

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