U Win Htein backpedals on prosecution threat after military rebuke

By NYAN HLAING LYNN | FRONTIER

NAY PYI TAW — U Win Htein has walked back comments suggesting that the military may be behind rumours suggesting the imminent resignation of President U Htin Kyaw, after the senior National League for Democracy spokesman was accused of undermining the “dignity” of the armed forces.

Win Htein had come out swinging on Thursday against the resignation rumours, which have been spread widely on social media amid suggestions Htin Kyaw was unhappy in his role as effective ceremonial leader of Myanmar.

Indicating he had asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to investigate and prosecute the source of the claims, Win Htein variously suggested that figures from the military, Union Solidarity and Development Party and the IT community may be to blame for the rumours.

The military’s public affairs department issued a forceful rebuke on Friday, indicating the “necessary response” would be made to the claims in a possible hint of legal action against the NLD heavyweight.

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“The groundless slander to the Tatmadaw by U Win Htein, a member of the secretariat of the central executive committee of the NLD, when meeting with the media damages the Tatmadaw’s dignity greatly,” it read.

Later that day, a chastened Win Htein appeared before reporters in Nay Pyi Taw again to apologise for his earlier comments, while pointing out he had not named any individuals in the previous day’s allegations.

“When asked who is responsible, I said this one and that one. I just spoke of what came out of my brain,” he said. “[There were] no allegations made. I did not make allegations directed at anyone in particular. It would be my fault if there were allegations made, but I can’t help the fact that they are upset when there were not even allegations.”

Win Htein added he had not received a direct response from the military in relation to his Thursday comments.

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