France calls on Myanmar military to release Suu Kyi, respect election results

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France’s government urged Myanmar’s military leaders to respect the results of a November election and to release civilian leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi after their arrest in a coup on Monday.

The French government joined international condemnations after Myanmar’s military arrested Suu Kyi and took control of the country, apparently over disputes about election results showing victory for the civilian leader’s National League for Democracy party.

“This arrest, as well as the transfer of legislative, executive and judicial power to the army, is an unacceptable threat to the democratic process that was started about 10 years ago,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.

France’s government spokesperson had earlier called on the military to respect the result of a November election.

“Elections were held last November and Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi was elected, and in these conditions we urge that the ballot be respected,” government spokesperson Gabriel Attal told France Info radio.

Paris was closely following events in Myanmar and discussing its response with partners, “in particular within the United Nations”, Attal said, adding the government was concerned about the safety of French citizens in the country.

Leaders around the world condemned the coup, which came after weeks of tensions between the military and the civilian government.

A presenter on military-owned Myawaddy TV said the military used an article in the constitution allowing it to take control in times of national emergency.

The announcer said the military had acted because government had failed to act on claims of voter fraud in elections last November as well as failure to postpone the poll because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained in Naypyidaw before dawn, a spokesperson of the National League for Democracy told AFP agency.

In a message posted to her official Facebook page, Suu Kyi called on people “not to accept a coup” and resist any return to “military dictatorship”. The timing of the post showed the leader had issued the message pre-emptively, before being detained by the military on Monday.

The takeover reversed partial progress toward democracy in Myanmar in recent years, after five decades of military rule and international isolation.

(with newswires)