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No one above the law, Myanmar junta minister says of Suu Kyi sentence


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attends Invest Myanmar in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, January 28, 2019. REUTERS/Ann Wang/File Photo

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By Poppy McPherson

(Reuters) -A senior Myanmar junta official said on Tuesday the imprisonment of Aung San Suu Kyi showed that no one was above the law and the army chief had commuted her sentence on “grounds of humanity”.

Information Minister Maung Maung Ohn also told a virtual briefing that Myanmar’s judicial system was impartial and Monday’s sentencing of the Nobel laureate and former leader was according to the law.

Suu Kyi, 76, was sentenced to four years in prison for incitement and breaching coronavirus regulations but the military junta leaders reduced it to a two-year term of detention in her current location.

“There is no one above the law,” Maung Maung Ohn said on Tuesday, adding that Myanmar’s judicial system “has no partiality”.

He was speaking at a rare media briefing on the economy during which he and the junta’s investment minister said the situation in the country was stabilising.

They said preparations for elections to be held before August 2023 were under way but would not confirm whether Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, would be allowed to compete.

The party is under investigation by the election commission, which Maung Maung Ohn said was due to report back early next year.

Myanmar has been in crisis since the military seized power in a Feb.1 coup, arresting Suu Kyi and most of her government.

Security forces seeking to crush opposition have since killed more than 1,200 people, according to monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, and armed rebellions have sprung up across the country.

On Sunday, security forces in a truck rammed into a flash mob protest in the commercial capital of Yangon, killing at least five people, the news website Myanmar Now reported.

Maung Maung Ohn said the protest was the result of pressure from anti-coup groups “so that young people get emotional” but that crowd management by authorities “is sometimes handled unintentionally”.

“Such kind of protests should be prevented according to the law,” he said.

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