Myanmar coup: Junta head claims Aung San Suu Kyi 'in good health'

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Min Aung HlaingImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Min Aung Hlaing, pictured in March, has given his first media interview since February's coup

Myanmar's military leader has claimed Aung San Suu Kyi is "in good health" in his first interview since leading a violent coup in February.

Min Aung Hlaing also said Ms Suu Kyi would appear in court within days.

She has been under house arrest and has not been seen in public since the military seized control.

The military leader also repeated unverified claims of voter fraud in the country's election in November 2020 - its justification for the coup.

The vote was won by Ms Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).

The coup on 1 February plunged the South East Asian country into chaos.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Protests have been crushed by the military and more than 4,000 people have been detained

In the months since, the military has brutally crushed protests and detained more than 4,000 people.

More than 800 people have been killed, according to the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

What do we know about the interview?

Min Aung Hlaing spoke to Hong Kong's Phoenix Television on Thursday, but the full interview has not yet been aired.

A clip of the general's comments, given in Burmese and translated into Chinese, was posted on social media.

"Aung San Suu Kyi is in good health. She's been staying at home and will appear in court in a few days," he said in the clip.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Aung San Suu Kyi, pictured here in 2019, has not been seen in public since the coup

He then repeated the military's claim that the NLD committed electoral fraud last year.

Ms Suu Kyi is due to appear in court on Monday in the capital Nay Pyi Taw. She is yet to be allowed to speak directly to her lawyers.

What is Suu Kyi accused of?

Civilian leader Ms Suu Kyi and other elected officials were arrested on 1 February in a series of early morning military raids. She has only been seen by video link since.

She has been charged with a number of criminal offences, the most serious of which accuses her of violating the country's Official Secrets Act.

The lesser offences she is charged with include breaking Covid-19 restrictions during the election campaign last year, and possessing unlicensed walkie-talkies.

On Friday, the military leaders threatened to dissolve the NLD.

The military has justified its February coup by alleging massive voter fraud in the country's election, but has provided no evidence.

Media caption,
"They have guns but we have people": Inside Myanmar’s Spring Revolution

Union Election Commission chair Thein Soe said an investigation into the election result was almost complete.

"What shall we do with the party that [acted] illegally? Should we dissolve the party or charge those who committed this [illegal activity] as traitors of the nation?" he said.

Earlier this week, independent observers said there was no evidence of fraud at the election.

The Asian Network for Free Elections, which had observers at more than 400 polling stations, said the result was "by and large, representative of the will of the people of Myanmar".

Myanmar in profile

  • Myanmar, also known as Burma, became independent from Britain in 1948. For much of its modern history it has been under military rule
  • Restrictions began loosening from 2010 onwards, leading to free elections in 2015 and the installation of a government led by veteran opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi the following year
  • In 2017, Myanmar's army responded to attacks on police by Rohingya militants with a deadly crackdown, driving more than half a million Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh in what the UN later called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing"