General Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of Myanmar’s coup, announced his assumption of the premiership, saying that the state of emergency could last until August 2023.
In an hour-long speech, Aung Hlaing pledged to hold “plural, free and fair elections”, but also called the National Democratic League, which ousted him from power, a “terrorist”.
Hundreds were killed in protests against the military coup in February /last February.
The country has also witnessed protests over the deteriorating health care system, which has collapsed amid a massive increase in coronavirus infections.
Myanmar has so far reported 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 9,300 deaths, although the limited testing available suggests that the actual infections are much higher.
In his speech broadcast on state television, General Aung Hlaing accused those who oppose him and his military council of deliberately spreading COVID-19.
And he talked about spreading “false news and misleading information through social networks”, which deals with misleading his government’s policies on dealing with the virus, describing it as a “tool of bioterrorism”.
The BBC’s Jonathan Head in Bangkok says the general’s speech was part of a peculiar rhetoric that included everything from the need to grow more cotton and onions to condemning those trying to destroy the country and Myanmar’s traditions.
The general said that COVID-19 will be contained through more vaccinations, extended public holidays, and what he called harmonious cooperation between people.
But our correspondent said that dozens of medical workers have been arrested and many are in hiding since the coup, while people seeking treatment say the military is turning them away from hospitals and restricting access to oxygen, causing many to die in their homes.
After the military seized power in February, a one-year state of emergency was declared.
But a nationwide civil disobedience campaign continues, and tens of thousands of workers have been fired or went on strike.
General Aung Hlaing insisted that the country was stable, adding: “I pledge to hold multi-party elections without fail.”
The general did not specify the nature of these parties that will participate in the elections, after he said that the NLD and its supporters “are extremists and chose the terrorist act instead of dissolving the party in accordance with the law.”
Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy, has been detained since the coup and faces a range of criminal charges.
Burmese human rights activist, Aung Kyaw Moe, told the BBC that the general’s pledge to hold elections was “a lie and it will not happen…the people of Myanmar will not trust this kind of promise”.