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Burmese junta slaps corruption charges on Aung San Suu Kyi

MYANMAR’S military junta levelled corruption charges against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi today.

The Anti-Corruption Commission says that Ms Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy won over 80 per cent of the vote in the most recent elections last November, took bribes and misused her position to profit from real estate deals.

Ms Suu Kyi has already been charged with spreading information that could cause public alarm or unrest. She also faces two counts of violating the Natural Disaster Management Law for allegedly breaking Covid-19 pandemic restrictions during the 2020 election campaign, illegally importing walkie-talkies that were for her bodyguards’ use and unlicensed use of the radios.

Her lawyers denied the charges when they were first hinted at by army chiefs shortly after they seized power in February, just before the elected government was due to take office. They appear to have echoes of the notorious “lawfare” corruption charges widely deployed against politicians of the left across Latin America, such as Brazilian socialist ex-president Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva.

A conviction could stop Ms Suu Kyi standing in future elections, as Lula, who has since been exonerated, was stopped from running against current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. 

Myanmar’s coup regime says it will hold elections within two years, claiming, without evidence, that last autumn’s vote was flawed. But the army has rarely relinquished power in the country for long since first seizing power in 1962.

• A quarter of the population have been forced to flee their homes since February’s putsch in Myanmar’s smallest state, UN rapporteur Tom Andrews said yesterday. A hundred thousand people have been displaced in Kayah state because of army attacks, he said.

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