NLD chairperson: Respect rule of law

Aung San Suu Kyi seen at parliament building in February 18 (Photo-EMG)

The rule of law must always prevail, National League for Democracy (NLD) chairperson Aung San Suu Kyi said yesterday when asked to comment on the government's declaration of martial law in Kokant.

"I have understood that the imposition of martial law is carried out from the military point of view," she said. "The army itself has a duty to safeguard the country and people. It depends on the procedures. The rule of law cannot be neglected in any kind of administration. It should be done within the framework."

Asked whether Chinese troops are involved in Kokant and whether it could damage relations between Myanmar and China, she replied: "It is crucial (to determine) to what extent this news is true and accurate?"

Kokant is close to the Chinese border, and thousands of Myanmar residents have reportedly fled over the border in the past week.

The Myanmar government declared a state of emergency and martial law in the Kokant Self-Administered Zone in Shan State on Tuesday following heavy fighting between government army troops and Kokant rebels in the region since February 9.

Myanmar's military is now in charge of the region's "administrative rights and responsibility, community peace and tranquillity, rule of law and judiciary matters," President Thein Sein's martial law order states.

Tensions have continued to escalate with civilians and property coming increasingly under threat, leading Thein Sein to declare the state of emergency and imposition of three months of martial law under constitutional provisions.

Lower House MP Kyaw Ni Naing, from Laukkaing constituency close to the fighting, was among those supporting the president's decision.

"We, the Kokant race, have time to do something within 90 days." he said. "Soon peace and stability will be restored to the region through the unity and cooperation between the army and the Kokant race. We support the imposition of martial law. The fighting occurred between Chinshwehaw and Laukkaing. We are totally opposed to such extremism."

Two individuals were injured Tuesday when a Red Cross motorcade carrying 40 civilians between Laukkaing and Chinshwehaw came under fire. Myanmar's military is pointing the finger at the rebels, who deny what is a breach of Geneva Convention provisions pertaining to civilians in battle zones.