Myanmar on Tuesday urged its people to be on guard for efforts by “aggressive countries” to win political control of the nation, in a message to mark the 63rd anniversary of its independence.
“It is not strange certain covetous, aggressive countries are anxious to gain political control over a geographically strategic country like Myanmar,” junta chief Senior General Than Shwe said in a statement read on his behalf.
“I would like to urge the entire people to guard the nation with political awareness against any forms of disruptions in order that the mother country’s independence and sovereignty will never be under alien influence.”
Military-ruled Myanmar held a widely criticised election in November, in which an army-backed party claimed an overwhelming victory.
The new parliament, which will elect a president, is expected to convene in late January. It is unclear what role Than Shwe plans for himself.
The regime typically uses the anniversary of the country’s independence from Britain in 1948 to warn its people to remain vigilant against the dangers posed by other nations — usually seen as a reference to the United States.
Washington last week called on the junta to free political prisoners and engage in dialogue to promote democracy.
The regime released opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest shortly after the November election, but about 2,200 other political prisoners remain imprisoned.
Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar’s assassinated independence hero General Aung San, has spent most of the past 20 years locked up. Her party won a landslide election victory in 1990 but it was never recognised by the regime.