Burma

On Anniversary of Coup, Myanmar Junta Extends Military Rule for Six Months

By The Irrawaddy 1 February 2022

The Myanmar military regime formally extended its grip on power for another six months on the eve of the first anniversary of its coup against the country’s democratically elected government.

Coup leader Min Aung Hlaing claimed that the “state of emergency” needed to be renewed due to ongoing instability in some parts of the country, and “to set the right track for a genuine, disciplined multi-party democracy and to continue preparations for the multi-party democracy general election” it has scheduled for next year.

The regime’s acting president, U Myint Swe, approved a six-month extension of military rule during the National Defense and Security Council (NDSC) meeting on Monday. The meeting was joined by the coup leader and other senior junta officials. Under the country’s military-drafted constitution of 2008, the state of emergency—i.e., the military takeover, in this case—can be renewed twice, for six months each time. Min Aung Hlaing said he would hold a general election in 2023 upon “accomplishing the provisions of the state of emergency.”

Myanmar’s military staged a coup on this day last year, claiming widespread voting fraud during the general election of 2020, which saw a landslide victory for the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy, paving the way for the party’s second consecutive term in office. Despite the junta’s claim, local and international election observers insisted the election was free and fair. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been jailed on a number of charges widely dismissed as trumped-up and faces several more.

Following the takeover, the Southeast Asian country plunged into political, social and economic turmoil and saw the rise of an anti-regime movement. The coup ended a decade of democracy and economic reforms that followed the end of a half-century of military rule in 2011. The country’s economy is now in dire straits, with Myanmar’s kyat currency having shed much of its value and food and fuel costs skyrocketing.

The extension of military rule comes as Min Aung Hlaing continues to struggle to fully control the country due to popular resistance to his rule over his killing of some 1,499 people so far and the detention of another 11,801. In his speech at Monday’s NDSC meeting, he admitted that destructive violence continued in some parts of the country, particularly Chin State and Sagaing Region, referring to a deadly and effective armed resistance campaign by local people there that has inflicted heavy casualties on his soldiers.

In his speech to the nation on Tuesday, the first anniversary of the coup, Min Aung Hlaing called for public cooperation as the regime focused on stability and peace during the coming six months.

However, it seems very unlikely he will receive the support he requested.

On Tuesday, one hour after his speech to the nation, the people of Myanmar made a show of defiance against his rule, staging a silent strike by staying indoors as planned for the coup anniversary. The normally busy neighborhoods of major cities like Yangon were deserted, though some businesses were forced to open by the regime. Public buses ran with empty passenger seats. The strike was the third since Min Aung Hlaing’s power grab last year, as people sought to convey a message that the coup leader can’t control their daily activities, let alone their lives. Previous protests turned out to be a huge success, as well as a major embarrassment for the regime.


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