Burma

After Embassy Protest, Indonesia Denies Backing Myanmar Regime’s Election Plan

By San Yamin Aung 23 February 2021

Disenfranchised Myanmar voters flocked to the Indonesian Embassy in Yangon on Tuesday to protest Jakarta’s reported push for ASEAN member states to agree to a rerun of the election by the Myanmar junta, which overthrew the country’s elected civilian government. The report was later denied by Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry.

The protesters denounced the reported plan by the giant of Southeast Asia as legitimizing the junta and ignoring their electoral wishes.

News agency Reuters reported on Monday that Indonesia is pushing its Southeast Asian neighbors to agree on an action plan to ensure that the military regime keeps its promise to hold new elections and hand over power

Since the military staged a coup on Feb. 1 after rejecting the November election as “flawed”, anti-regime protesters have demanded the release of the country’s detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and that the outcome of the election—in which a clear majority of Myanmar voters backed her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD)—be respected.

They rejected the regime’s promise that it would hold a new election at the end of its declared one-year state of emergency and hand over power to the winner.

Myanmar people stage a protest in front of the Indonesian Embassy on Feb. 23. / The Irrawaddy

Upset by the report, protesters gathered near the Indonesian Embassy the following morning, shouting “We don’t need another election!” “Respect our votes!” and “We want our government back!”

Netizens have also slammed the proposal as “ridiculous” and “totally unacceptable”, saying they already have an elected government and calling for it to be restored. Among them were elected members of the country’s ousted Parliament who are currently in hiding fearing arrest by the military.

Since the Reuters report went viral, an online campaign has been in full swing, including a popular post on Facebook telling ASEAN: “No Re-Election, We Want Our Government Back”.

Amid the protests, Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday denied the existence of any action plan on Myanmar.

An officer from the embassy in Yangon came out and told the protesters that what Reuters reported wasn’t true, quoting a spokesperson for the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.

She said, “Indonesia do[es] not support the reelection,” going on to say that Jakarta would respect the wishes of the Myanmar people.

“Accepting the junta’s plan to hold a new election is recognizing the coup,” human rights activist U Aung Myo Min said, adding that no such resolution should be considered in future.

“Doing so would be an insult to the will of the Myanmar people and to those protesting on the streets,” he said. He added that it would also go against the basic principle of strengthening member states’ paths to democracy, as outlined in the ASEAN Charter.

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