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Burmese coup leader says in interview he’s surprised by backlash

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: Min Aung Hlaing said he didn't expect backlash to his coup in a Chinese interview. (via Wikimedia)

In an interview with a Hong Kong TV channel recently aired on Burmese television, Burmese coup leader Min Aung Hlaing said that he was struggling to control Myanmar after a surprise backlash. The interview by the Chinese language Phoenix Television was just aired Thursday in Myanmar. In the interview, the military leader said he did not anticipate such widespread and popular opposition to his seizing power and putting the country under military rule.

The unexpected pushback to his assumption of leadership resulted in his admitted inability to fully control the country now in crisis after more than 3 months since the democratically elected government’s overthrow. He maintained that the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi had stolen the general election last year with mass voter fraud. Claiming that their overwhelming victory was illegitimate, Min Aung Hlaing staged the coup that has seen over 800 protestors killed and thousands of political prisoners jailed including Aung San Suu Kyi herself.

The general said that he failed to estimate that level of dissent to his takeover of the government even after more than 80% of the parliamentary seats went to the NLD in the election, proving the immense popularity of the party.

“I have to say I didn’t think it would be that much.”

In the Phoenix Television interview, the Burmese junta leader dismissed these protestors as nothing more than “dishonest individuals” and labelling the massive protests across the nation nearly daily nothing more than an emotional reaction to the upheaval. He further explained that the protesters were essentially cheating sore losers, angry that he exposed the NLD’s alleged voter fraud in the election.

The coup leader didn’t give a lot of detail in the interview but seemed to suggest that many of the Burmese people involved in demonstrations were only protesting because they feared they could face legal charges for some alleged nefarious actions his new regime could prosecute.

After the election and imprisoning of Suu Kyi and elected President U Win Myint, charging them with multiple crimes, hundreds of thousands of Burmese people flooded the streets to protest to coup. Many young pro-democracy demonstrators continue to demonstrate daily, but they are joined by people of all demographics in widespread support against the coup.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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