Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Burmese military continues to play a "central role" in the life of the country, as "political force and force for peace" to guarantee "internal stability" at a time of deep ethnic and sectarian tensions. This was claimed by General Min Aung Hlaing, commander in chief of the Tatmadaw, during a military parade that took place yesterday in the capital Naypyidaw. It was also attended - and for the first time - by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent 15 of the past 22 years under house arrest under the military junta that ruled Myanmar for almost 50 years.
Speaking to over 6,300 soldiers on parade, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing stressed that the army should "strengthen its capacity" and operate "alliances at a regional level" to build a "democratic and well-disciplined nation." "While the country is moving towards modern democracy, our military plays a leading role in national politics...we will keep on marching to strengthen the democratic administrative path wished by the people. "
The military celebrations commemorate the uprising against the Japanese occupiers in 1945 and have always been a show used by the leadership to flex its muscles in front of the nation and the international community. They have repeatedly rejected past accusations, made by international observers, of genocide and war crimes. For the first time yesterday's parade was attended by the opposition leader and Nobel Peace Laureate accompanied by party leaders close to ethnic minorities. Aung San Suu Kyi said she continues to nourish "trust" in the military, while hoping for a partnership (also) with the leadership of the army for a constitutional amendment that will allow full participation in the political life of the country.
The Burmese military junta has held power for decades - using an iron fist - in Myanmar, bloodily suppressing any attempt at opposition, imprisoning activists, religious and democratic, including the daughter of the national independence hero, Aung San Suu Kyi. In 2011 the first elections in two decades were held, which led to the election of a Parliament and the appointment of the former military leader Thein Sein as President. He is considered "reformist" and promoter of some laws aimed at increasing democratization of nation. However, critics claim these changes are just "window dressing", given that the balance of power has not changed because the senior army officers - present in the Assembly with 25% of the seats - still retain the destiny of the people of Myanmar and Burma in their hands. Even the sectarian and ethnic clashes in recent weeks, according to some, are only a pretext to legitimize military intervention and its presence.