Myanmar: Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing vows to ‘safeguard democracy’

Myanmar’s military leader has promised to “safeguard democracy” as the regime warned anti-coup protesters against taking to the streets.

Min Aung Hlaing, speaking on national TV to mark Armed Forces Day, again promised elections but gave no date.

State TV warned in a separate broadcast on Friday that protesters could risk being shot in “the head and back”.

More than 320 people have been shot dead in the suppression of protests since the coup on 1 February.

“The army seeks to join hands with the entire nation to safeguard democracy,” Min Aung Hlaing said in a live broadcast on Saturday.

“Violent acts that affect stability and security in order to make demands are inappropriate.”He added that the army had to seize power because of “unlawful acts” by democratically-elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy.

However he did not specifically say that the military had been given shoot-to-kill orders. The junta has previously tried to claim that shootings have come from among the protesters.

On Friday, state TV warned that people “should learn from the tragedy of earlier ugly deaths that you can be in danger of getting shot to the head and back”.Armed Forces Day commemorates the start of Myanmar’s military resistance against Japanese occupation in 1945.

The parade is usually attended by officials from other nations. However, it appeared that Russian deputy defence minister Alexander Formin was the only foreign official there.

“Russia is a true friend,” Min Aung Hlaing added.

The US, UK and EU have all imposed sanctions in response to the military coup.

Myanmar and Russia’s defence ties have grown in recent years. In that time Moscow has provided training to thousands of soldiers, and has sold arms to the military.

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