Myanmar junta announces one-month ceasefire

It says the ceasefire excludes issues that disrupt government security and administration

Myanmar's junta announced a one-month nationwide ceasefire would begin on April 1.

All military operations will be suspended except those dealing withdefence and administrative issues that disrupt government security and administration, the BBC reported.

Commander of the military, Min Aung Hlaing, said the ceasefire would allow peace talks and the celebration of the Thingyan festival to take place. The week-long festival marks the start of a new year in Myanmar's calendar.

He urged those involved in the negotiations to work for lasting peace.

Ko Bo Kyi, joint secretary of Myanmar's Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), expressed scepticism that the ceasefire would end the violence against protesters.

He said the junta "did not announce ceasefire with people even though they announced ceasefire with armed groups".

"They are still killing and torturing the unarmed people," he said.

Shortly after the ceasefire was announced, a new political group established by Myanmar's overthrown elected officials and called the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, announced it would repeal the country's 2008 constitution, which provided the military with some governing powers.

While the announcement appears largely symbolic, the group said "the constitution was not only written to prolong the military dictatorship, but also to prevent the emergence of a federal democratic union".

The return to military rule after a decade of tentative steps towards democracy set off a wave of protests in the South-East Asian country.

At least 521 civilians have been killed in the unrest, including 141 who died on Saturday, the bloodiest day of protests so far, the AAPP said.

Fighting also flared between the army and ethnic minority insurgents in frontier regions.

Refugees fleeing the turmoil are seeking safety in neighbouring countries.

There is growing international concern about prospects for the country.

The junta has not taken up offers from neighbouring countries to help find a solution.

On Tuesday, the US ordered most of its citizens to leave Myanmar because of what Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the "increasingly disturbing and even horrifying violence" against demonstrators.

Meanwhile, Myanmar's deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, appeared in good health in a video meeting, one of her lawyers said.

Ms Suu Kyi, who has been held in custody since the military seized power on February 1, wanted to meet lawyers in person and did not agree to a wide discussion in the presence of police, lawyer Min Min Soe told Reuters.

"Amay looks healthy, her complexion is good," Min Min Soe said, using an affectionate term meaning "mother" to refer to Ms Suu Kyi.

Only the legal cases against her filed since the coup were discussed during the video conference, Min Min Soe said.

Ms Suu Kyi, 75, faces charges that include illegally importing six hand-held radios and breaching coronavirus protocols. The military has also accused her of bribery.

Her lawyers say the charges were trumped up and dismissed the accusation of bribery. The next hearing is on Thursday.

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