Ousted Myanmar President Says Army Tried To Force Him To Step Down Hours Before Coup

Myanmar’s deposed president testified on Tuesday that the military tried to force him to resign from power hours before the February 1 coup, warning him that he could suffer serious harm if he refused, according to his lawyer.

Win Myint’s testimony, his first public comment since he was ousted, challenges the military’s insistence that no coup occurred and that power had been legitimately transferred to the generals by a sitting president.
Win Myint was testifying alongside Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the de facto government before the coup, at his trial Tuesday on charges including incitement, stemming from letters with his names that were sent to embassies urging them not to recognize the board.
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 problems.
“The president rejected his proposal, saying that he was in good health,” defense attorney Khin Maung Zaw said in an English text message sent to journalists, citing his testimony. “The officers warned him that denial would cause him a lot of harm, but the president told them that he would rather die than consent.”
A spokesman for Myanmar’s ruling military council did not respond to calls seeking comment on Tuesday.

Khin Maung Zaw said the defense rejected the charges against Win Myint and Suu Kyi as they were being held incommunicado.
Win Myint and Suu Kyi have both dismissed multiple charges against them as false. The defense lawyer, representing them both, said Suu Kyi had suggested Tuesday’s testimony be made public.
Myanmar has been torn by violence and economic paralysis since the army intervened to prevent Suu Kyi forming a new government, three months after her party was re-elected in a landslide.
The generals said that election was marred by fraud, threatening the country’s sovereignty.
The vice president, Myint Swe, a former army officer, was sworn in as President on February 1 and immediately handed power to the military to oversee a state of emergency.
The junta has not publicly disclosed how Myint Swe assumed the presidency from Win Myint
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