Myanmar’s military leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing told an Independence Day parade on Wednesday, that preparations are going ahead for a national election later this year and urged the country to participate in the political process.
The plan is widely seen as an attempt to legitimise the military’s 2020 seizure of power through the ballot box and to deliver a result that ensures the generals retain control. The military will control the entire process with parliamentary political opposition eliminated.
Wednesday’s large-scale parade marked the 75th anniversary of Myanmar’s Independence from Britain. Military units and civil servants marched in formation close to the grandiose parliament complex in Naypyidaw while jet fighters, bombers and helicopters flew overhead.
At the same day, Myanmar began a mass release of prisoners including some political detainees but there was no sign the gesture would include ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The military government said it was pardoning 7,012 prisoners, along with a partial commutation of the sentences of other inmates, not convicted of serious crimes.
Since then it has violently repressed dissent and resistance with almost 17 thousand people detained, according to the assistance association for political prisoners. More than 13 thousand of these remain behind bars.