Published:  08:28 AM, 17 February 2021

Myanmar's Suu Kyi faces new charge amid protests

Myanmar's Suu Kyi faces new charge amid protests

Myanmar's detained opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been handed a second criminal charge on the day she appeared in court via video link.

Ms Suu Kyi, who was earlier charged with possessing illegal walkie-talkies, is now also alleged to have violated the country's Natural Disaster Law.

It is not clear what the new charge, issued on Tuesday, relates to.

Myanmar's military earlier repeated its promise to hold fresh elections and relinquish power as protests continue.

Anti-coup demonstrators are demanding the release of their elected leaders, including Ms Suu Kyi, following the military coup on 1 February.

In the military's first news conference since toppling the government, spokesman Brig Gen Zaw Min Tun said the armed forces would not remain in power for long, and promised to "hand power back to the winning party" following a planned election.

However, he did not provide a date for the vote.

Speaking in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday, Zaw Min Tun also repeated the claim - without providing evidence - of fraud in last November's election.

Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a resounding victory in the poll. The military has claimed fraud as a justification for its coup.

Britain and the US have criticized the charges. PM Boris Johnson said they were "fabricated" and "a clear violation of her human rights", while a spokesperson for the US state department called them "disturbing."

Ms Suu Kyi made a brief virtual appearance at a court in the capital Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday. She reportedly answered questions about legal arrangements and representation.

Her next court appearance is scheduled to take place on 1 March.

Zaw Min Tun said that Ms Suu Kyi had been confined to her home for her own safety, and that she was "comfortable and healthy".

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