YANGON — Myanmar's junta has hired international lobbying support as it attempts to quell the backlash to last month's military coup, according to a consultancy agreement first reported by Foreign Lobby

The country's defence minister Mya Tun Oo has retained Ari Ben-Menashe and his Montreal-based firm Dickens & Madson Canada to "assist in explaining the real situation in the country," focusing on the US government and Congress, as well as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel, Russia, the UN, African Union and other international organizations and NGOs.

Ben-Menashe, an infamous Israeli businessman who claims to have previously worked for the country's intelligence services, told Reuters that Myanmar's generals are keen to leave politics after their coup and seek to improve relations with the US, at the expense of China.

His comments come as the UN reports that more than 50 demonstrators have been killed amid a popular uprising since the coup on 1 February, which overthrew and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi after her National League for Democracy party won polls by a landslide.

Last week, a UN special envoy called on the Security Council to take action against the junta for the killings of protesters. Hundreds of thousands have protested in Myanmar since the coup, demanding the release of Suu Kyi and for November's election results to be observed. 

The US government has imposed sanctions on the army and the companies it operates, while foreign companies — including those from Singapore, India and the EU — are facing pressure to cut ties with military-owned countries in Myanmar.

Ben-Menashe further told Reuters that the junta could prove the vote was rigged, and that most of the country's population do not support the protests. He offered no evidence to support his claims.