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Myanmar’s ex-president Win Myint says army tried to force him to resign hours before coup


Win Myint’s testimony – his first public comments since he was overthrown – challenges the military’s insistence that no coup took place and that power was legally transferred to the generals by an interim president.
Win Myint was testifying alongside Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and de facto head of government before the coup, during their trial on Tuesday for incitement to violence, resulting from letters bearing their names which were sent to embassies urging them not to recognize the junta.

Win Myint, who was Myanmar’s head of state, told the court in the capital Naypyidaw that senior military officials approached him on February 1 and told him to resign due to health concerns.

“The president rejected their proposal, saying he was in good health,” defense attorney Khin Maung Zaw said in a text message to reporters, citing his testimony. “The officers warned him that denial would hurt him a lot, but the president told them he would rather die than consent.”

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Myanmar’s ruling military council did not respond to calls for comment.

Khin Maung Zaw said the defense dismissed the charges against Win Myint and Suu Kyi because they were being held incommunicado.

Win Myint and Suu Kyi have both dismissed several accusations against them as false. The defense attorney, who represents them both, said Suu Kyi suggested that Tuesday’s testimony be made public.

Myanmar has been torn by violence and economic paralysis since the military intervened to prevent Suu Kyi from forming a new government, three months after her party was re-elected in a landslide.

The generals said the election was tainted with fraud, threatening the country’s sovereignty.

Vice President Myint Swe, a former army officer, was sworn in as president on February 1 and immediately handed over power to the military to oversee the state of emergency.

The junta has not publicly disclosed how Myint Swe succeeded Win Myint as president.