Armed forces release statement saying remarks by general about political system were misinterpreted

Military chiefs arrive at a news conference ahead of the start of a new parliament term in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw this week.Military chiefs arrive at a news conference ahead of the start of a new parliament term in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw this week. Photograph: Thar Byaw/Reuters
Myanmar’s armed forces have said they will protect and abide by the country’s constitution and act according to law, amid concerns in the country that the military might attempt to seize power.

In an official statement on Saturday, the military said recent remarks by its top general about abolishing the constitution were misinterpreted by media and some organisations.

More than a dozen embassies, including the US and EU delegation, urged Myanmar to “adhere to democratic norms” on Friday, joining the UN in a chorus of international concern about a possible coup.

The country is just a decade out of nearly 50 years of military rule, with a nascent democracy governed under a junta-authored constitution which dictates power-sharing between the civilian administration and the country’s generals.

For weeks, the powerful military has alleged widespread voter irregularities in November’s election, which Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) won in a landslide.

Its call for voter list verification ramped up this week, with an army spokesman on Tuesday refusing to rule out the possibility of a military takeover to deal with what he called a political crisis.

Fears grew after army chief General Min Aung Hlaing – arguably Myanmar’s most powerful individual – appeared to echo the sentiment on Wednesday, when he said the country’s constitution could be “revoked” under certain circumstances.

The newly elected MPs are expected to begin sitting in parliament on 1 February.

Security in the capital Naypyidaw was tight on Friday with police guarding roads behind barbed wire barricades.

Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy Party (NLD) on Saturday said it accepted the statement as a suitable explanation, after the armed forces said it would protect and follow the constitution.

Myo Nyunt, spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party, told Reuters the party wanted the military to be an organisation “that accepts people’s desire regarding the election”.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.