Myanmar junta reiterates election plan after ex-Cambodia PM seeks Suu Kyi access

By Thomson Reuters May 9, 2024 | 2:01 AM

(Reuters) – Myanmar’s military chief discussed plans to hold an election in the country with former Cambodian leader Hun Sen in talks this week, a senior official said, even as the ruling junta faces unprecedented pressure from an expanding armed resistance.

The military government has promised repeatedly to return Myanmar to democracy but has given no timeframe for when an election will happen.

Hun Sen, who stepped down as Cambodia’s prime minister last year after nearly four decades in charge, on Tuesday said he had asked junta leader Min Aung Hlaing if he could speak to detained Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, whose elected government the military deposed in a 2021 coup.

Hun Sen said Min Aung Hlaing would give his request “high consideration”.

Junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said Hun Sen was an experienced leader who had an interest in Myanmar. He made no direct mention of the proposal to speak to Suu Kyi

“We have promised to hold a multi-party democratic election. We are currently preparing and implementing the necessary measures for that,” Zaw Min Tun said on Wednesday, according to state media.

“From our side, we will refrain from any actions or things that may delay or disturb the process.”

Myanmar was plunged into chaos by the 2021 coup, with Suu Kyi among hundreds arrested, prompting demonstrations that were violently suppressed by security forces.

A protest movement gradually morphed into a grassroots armed resistance that has combined with established ethnic minority armies in Myanmar’s borderlands, creating the most significant challenge for the military in decades.

Suu Kyi, whose exact whereabouts are unclear, has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for a multitude of offences her allies say she did not commit.

The junta plans to have an election if there is peace and stability but may not be able to hold it nationwide, Min Aung Hlaing said in March, insisting the military was holding power only temporarily.

(Reporting by Reuters staff; Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Martin Petty)