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MYANMAR ARMY RULER TAKES PRIME MINISTER ROLE, AGAIN PLEDGES ELECTIONS

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Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar's armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing Reuters file photo

Myanmar's military ruler Min Aung Hlaing has taken on the role of prime minister in a newly formed caretaker government, state media reported on Sunday.

In a speech on Sunday, Min Aung Hlaing repeated a pledge to hold elections by 2023 and said his administration was ready to work with a future regional envoy on Myanmar.

The announcement and speech came exactly six months after the army seized power on 1 February from a civilian government following elections that were won by Aung San Suu Kyi's ruling party but that the military said had been fraudulent.

Min Aung Hlaing has chaired the State Administration Council (SAC) that was formed just after the coup and that has run Myanmar since then, and the caretaker government will replace it.

“In order to perform the country’s duties fast, easily and effectively, the state administration council has been re-formed as caretaker government of Myanmar,” a newsreader on state Myawaddy television said.

In his speech, Min Aung Hlaing repeated a pledge to restore democracy, saying, "We will accomplish the provisions of the state of emergency by August 2023”.

He added, "I guarantee the establishment of a union based on democracy and federalism."

Shortly after the coup, junta leaders promised new elections within two years. The reference on Sunday to August 2023 was interpreted by some local media as extending that time frame by six months.

Min Aung Hlaing also said his administration would work with any special envoy named by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN foreign ministers are to meet on Monday, when diplomats say they aim to finalise a special envoy tasked with ending violence and promoting dialogue between the junta and its opponents.