Myanmar’s military chief said on Friday the junta was open to negotiations with ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to end the crisis sparked by its coup after her trials in a junta-run court have concluded.
“After the legal processes against her according to the law are finished, we are going to consider (negotiations) based on her response,” Min Aung Hlaing said in a statement.
Suu Kyi, 77, has been detained since the generals toppled her government in a coup on February 1 last year, ending the Southeast Asian country’s brief period of democracy.
She has so far been jailed for 17 years for a clutch of charges rights groups say are politically motivated.
The Nobel laureate faces decades more in prison if convicted on other charges she is battling in a closed junta court.
Journalists have been barred from the proceedings, her lawyers gagged from speaking to the media and the junta has given no indication of when her trials might finish.
Dozens of people queue under monsoon drizzle for subsidized cooking oil in Myanmar’s commercial hub Yangon, waiting for one of the many commodities that have become scarce as economic misery strikes the city.
The country’s economy tanked following a military coup last year and it has been further rattled by the junta’s attempts to seize foreign exchange as well as erratic rules governing businesses and imports.
Living standards are being hammered by global commodity price spikes sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leaving many struggling to get by and relying on subsidies or charity to put food on the table.
“People can’t spend much of their income on food because of higher commodity prices,” said 55-year-old housewife Khin Khin Than as she waited to fill her plastic bottle with oil sold by a local association.
The market price for roughly 1.6kg of oil has rocketed to $4.25 from $2.36, she added.
“If only one person is working, a family won’t have much money left for food.”
In July the World Bank said about 40% of the population were living under the national poverty line.
Consumer Price Index inflation hit 17.3% year-on-year in March, it added.
The price of rice has also shot up thanks to increased transport costs and as the military and anti-junta fighters turn swathes of the country into battlegrounds.
Even the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper carries almost daily reports on the rising cost of rice, eggs, vegetables, bus travel and rent.
On the day before last year’s coup, customers in Yangon were paying $0.33 at the pump in Yangon according to industry figures.