The leader of the coup in Myanmar has made his first TV address, seeking to justify the action amid mass protests. A protester holds a photo of detained Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup. Photo: AFP Min Aung Hlaing said November's election, won in a landslide by the party of detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, had been unfair. The military has begun to impose restrictions in some areas, including curfews and limits to gatherings. Huge protests were held on Monday for a third straight day, along with a nationwide strike, to oppose the coup. One demonstrating doctor - who did not want to be named - told the BBC: "Today, we, professionals - especially civil servant professionals such as doctors, engineers and teachers - came out to show that we are all together in this. Our objective is the same - to make the dictatorship fall." The general's speech drew angry opposition, with images on social media showing people banging pots and pans in protest in front of television screens. The military seized power last week and declared a year-long state of emergency in Myanmar, also known as Burma, with power handed over to General Min Aung Hlaing. Suu Kyi and senior leaders of her National League for Democracy Party (NLD), including President Win Myint, have been put under house arrest. An Australian economic adviser to Suu Kyi, Sean Turnell, has also been detained and on Monday his family posted a statement on Facebook calling for his immediate release. What did the general say? Min Aung Hlaing's speech focused more on the reasons for the coup and less on threats to protesters. He said the electoral commission had failed to investigate irregularities over voter lists in the November election and had not allowed fair campaigning. The commission had said there was no evidence to support claims of widespread fraud. Min Aung Hlaing, wearing green military uniform, promised new elections and to hand power to the winner. A new "reformed" election commission would oversee it. He also said his rule would be "different" from what was effectively a 49-year military grip on power that ended in 2011 and which saw brutal crackdowns in 1988 and 2007. He spoke of achieving a "true and disciplined democracy", a phrase that drew scorn from some opponents of the coup on social media. Myanmar military chief General Min Aung Hlaing makes an announcement on the nationwide demonstrations being held in protest over the military coup. Photo: AFP He also told citizens to "go with the true facts and not to follow feelings of your own". The general did not issue direct threats to protesters, saying only that no-one was above the law. But some areas have seen clampdowns, with parts of Yangon and second city Mandalay, along with other areas, under a 20:00 to 04:00 curfew and with gatherings limited to groups of five or less. Earlier, a broadcast on state TV warned "action must be taken, according to the law... against offences that disturb, prevent and destroy state stability, public safety and the rule of law". Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said: "For a military coup government that has trampled all over democracy and the rule of law, it's absurd for them to claim they have any right to 'legal action' against peaceful protesters." Who has been on the streets? Tens of thousands gathered on Monday in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, for the strike, with other cities such as Mandalay and Yangon also reporting significant numbers, according to BBC Burmese. The protesters include teachers, lawyers, bank officers and government workers. Online there had been calls asking workers to skip work to protest. "This is a work day, but we aren't going to work even if our salary will be cut," one protester, 28-year-old garment factory worker, Hnin Thazin, told news agency AFP. People holding placards shout slogans of anti-coup as they protest against the military coup. Photo: AFP Another protester, Hnin Hayman Soe, told the BBC she had joined the protest alongside her children, nieces and nephews. "We can see many young people can't accept the military junta. We can even see teenagers here," she said. A few injuries have been reported, but no violence. However, a water cannon was activated in Nay Pyi Taw to disperse crowds. A video appears to show protesters rubbing their eyes and helping one another after being soaked. Kyaw Zeyar Oo, who took the video, told the BBC two vehicles had sprayed protesters with "no prior warning", while "the crowd was peacefully protesting in front of [the police]". The BBC's Nyein Chan Aye, in Yangon, says Buddhist monks, members of the minority Muslim community, top footballers and film and music stars have all been joining the anti-coup protests, which he says are expected to become more organised in the coming days. - BBC
By Maayan Lubell
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial resumes on Monday (local time), when Israel’s longest-serving leader will have to enter his plea to charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Involving secret recordings, media moguls, gifts of cigars and champagne and aides’ betrayals, the three corruption cases have all the makings of a political thriller.
Will it bring him down?
Netanyahu has managed to stay in office throughout the investigations and three election campaigns – with a fourth election due on 23 March.
He denies wrongdoing and a trial is likely to take years.
He will fight to remain prime minister in March and possibly for years afterwards.
If he wins, he could try to secure parliamentary immunity, or pass laws to exempt a serving prime minister from standing trial.
How has he remained in office?
Under Israeli law, a prime minister is under no obligation to stand down unless convicted. No other government minister is protected in this way, so there are legal and political reasons why Netanyahu wants to stay at the top.
Do Israelis care?
Yes. The corruption case has had a polarising impact on Israelis. Thousands of demonstrators gather weekly outside his official residence and across Israel under the banner of “Crime Minister”, demanding he quit.
But his right-wing voter base has stayed loyal. Supporters see the man they call King Bibi as strong on security and an influential voice for Israel abroad.
What are the charges?
CASE 4000 alleges Netanyahu granted regulatory favours worth around 1.8 billion shekels (approx $NZ695 million) to telecommunications company Bezeq Telecom Israel.
In return, prosecutors say, he sought positive coverage of himself and wife Sara on a news website controlled by the company’s former chairman, Shaul Elovitch.
In this case, Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Elovitch and his wife, Iris, have been charged with bribery and obstruction of justice. The couple deny wrongdoing.
CASE 1000, in which Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust, centres on allegations that he and his wife wrongfully received almost 700,000 shekels worth of gifts from Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen, and Australian billionaire businessman James Packer.
Prosecutors said gifts included champagne and cigars and that Netanyahu helped Milchan with his business interests. Packer and Milchan face no charges.
CASE 2000 alleges Netanyahu negotiated a deal with Arnon Mozes, owner of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, for better coverage and that, in return, he offered legislation that would slow the growth of a rival newspaper. Netanyahu has been charged with fraud and breach of trust. Mozes has been charged with offering a bribe, and denies wrongdoing.
What does Netanyahu say?
Netanyahu says he is the victim of a politically orchestrated “witch hunt” by the left and media to oust him from office, and that receiving gifts from friends is not against the law.
Could he go to jail?
Bribery charges carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years and or a fine. Fraud and breach of trust carry a sentence of up to three years.
Will a verdict come soon?
Unlikely. The trial could take years. But proceedings could be cut short if Netanyahu seeks a plea deal.