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.