Myanmar’s junta chief held a meeting with a key senior figure in Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted party on Sunday, the first significant meeting since the February coup.
The military removed Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party from power, leaving many of her close political allies in hiding while others were arrested.
The junta has been accused of electoral fraud in last year’s election, but much of the country is in open rebellion for a return to democracy.
Junta chief Min Aung Huling on Sunday met with longtime politician and NLD veteran Tin Oo, who has been withdrawn from the political scene in recent years due to old age and ill health.
“Min Aung Huling told U Tin Oo that health treatment could be provided if necessary, and his Army Hospital would help,” the Junta’s information team announced.
Tin Oo, a 94-year-old former army general and co-founder of the NLD, was pictured wearing his party pin – a trademark red flag with a golden peacock – during a meeting with Min Aung Huling, all smiles in civilian attire.
The junta chief also met with former spy chief-turned-prime minister Khin Nyunt, before being arrested under the former junta.
“Min Aung Huling also visited U Khin Nyun… and asked about his health condition.”
The 82-year-old spent several years in prison before being released in 2012.
While some in the West saw him as a potential reformer, activists were harassed, arrested and mass tortured as an espionage chief during Khin Nyunt’s reign.
Richard Horsey, Myanmar’s senior adviser to the International Crisis Group, said Khin Nyunt’s intelligence apparatus – which once infiltrated every neighborhood in Myanmar – was purged after his expulsion, while Tin O is now active in NLD party affairs. does not play a role.
“It does not appear that this meeting was approved by the NLD,” Horcy told AFP.
“Given that Min Aung Huling is determined to sideline Aung San Suu Kyi and will not meet her, perhaps she is looking for other meetings that will be politically cost-free.”
Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest after a coup in February. She is currently facing charges that could land her in prison for decades.
Sunday’s meeting took place on the eve of a junta court’s decision on Suu Kyi’s allegations of provocation and violation of coronavirus restrictions.
The verdict was to be announced last week, but the court adjourned it till December 6 without assigning any reason.