Election 2020

Amid Tense Relations, Myanmar Military Warns President of Impeachment

By Nyein Nyein 5 November 2020

YANGON—Relations between the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government and the military continued to sour over the election on Thursday, with the military warning of the possible impeachment of President U Win Myint if he fails to uphold his constitutional responsibilities.

The military fired the first salvo in the war of words early this week by criticizing the country’s electoral body, the Union Election Commission (UEC), for what it said were missteps in its preparation for the election, which will be held on Sunday. It also said the NLD administration would have to be held accountable for the UEC’s mistakes, as it is formed by the government. Following the criticism, military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing told a local media outlet that given the UEC’s mishandling of the election, he would be very wary about the election results this time.

On Wednesday, the Myanmar President’s Office reacted by saying the military’s comments on the election were inciting instability and causing public concern, while violating the law and the 2008 Constitution. It also said the UEC was an independent body and there is no law that dictates the body has to answer to the government.

In a lengthy response on Thursday, the military rejected the President’s Office’s comments. In a statement, the military said the government was ignoring its responsibility for the actions of the UEC, pointing out that the President can constitutionally appoint the electoral body members and impeach them.

“So, saying the government has nothing to do with the UEC’s failures is ignoring its responsibilities,” the military said in the statement.

It went on to say that government officials took oaths under the Constitution to honestly carry out their duties to the best of their abilities.

“It should be noted that the Constitution [provides for] the impeachment of the President and Vice President if he is deemed disqualified or not performing his responsibilities,” it added.

The military also attempted to justify its interference by saying its involvement in the country’s “national politics” was in accordance with the Constitution, which labels the military as its guardian.

Lawyer U Thein Than Oo said the ongoing quarrel between the military and the NLD government shows that they “don’t have warm relations.”

He urged the military and government to work together to correct the UEC’s mistakes and reform the agency, adding that blaming one another does not benefit anyone, including the people.

Political analyst Dr. Yan Myo Thein said the relationship between the government and the military is getting “intense.”

He said, “The problem lies with the weakness of the charter’s provisions; it needs to have clear definitions. Therefore, both sides are defending [themselves], leading to more intense confrontations.”

He added that in the pre-election period, it was undeniable that the UEC’s actions had not been satisfactory.

“But in regards to this, the UEC must act in an accountable and responsible manner. And the union government should investigate the UEC’s actions as soon as possible.”

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