NAYPYIDAW, Mar 27 : Myanmar's commander-in-chief of the armed forces has stressed that there is a "need" for the military to remain a political force, just days before an elected government is set to take power for the first time in 56 years.
Senior general Min Aung Hlaing, making an Armed Forces Day speech in the capital, Naypyidaw, on Sunday, reasserted the military's belief that it is the country's sole unifying force and protector of the constitution.
Though the military had "cooperated with the government and the people", to hold a historic general election in November, which was won by the party of former opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, it was not yet time to step away from the political arena, he said.
"The Tatmadaw has to be present as the leading role in national politics with regards to the ways we stand along the history and the critical situations of the country," Min Aung Hlaing said, referring to the armed forces by their Myanmar name.
The military seized power in a 1962 coup and for decades suppressed all opposition.
More than 10,000 military personnel marched in a parade marking the
day in 1945 when a
young nationalist leader, General Aung San, and his followers in a fledgling army turned against Japanese forces occupying their country.
Hundreds of veterans, foreign defence attaches and politicians gathered before dawn on a big parade field to watch the ceremony.
But conspicuously absent was Aung San's daughter, National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Suu Kyi.
She attended the ceremony in 2013 but has not since then.
Also absent was president-elect Htin Kyaw, Suu Kyi's hand-picked leader who will take power on Friday. ?REUTERS