US President Joe Biden Threatens New Sanctions on Myanmar After Coup

By The Irrawaddy 2 February 2021

YANGON—US President Joe Biden on Monday threatened to impose new sanctions on Myanmar and called on the international community to press the country’s military to relinquish power, in response to its coup and detention of national civilian leaders.

Biden said the military coup, the detention of Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian detainees, and the declaration of a national state of emergency are “a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and the rule of law.”

The president said the US had removed earlier sanctions on Myanmar over the past decade based on its progress toward democracy.

“The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action,” he said.

Just a few hours before Myanmar’s new Parliament was set to convene on Monday, the military (or Tatmadaw) seized power and declared a one-year state of emergency. Defending its action, the military claimed it was forced to act over what it called electoral fraud in the Nov. 8 election and the National League for Democracy-led government’s failure to address the issue.

Biden said that “in a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election.”

He called for the country’s democratic progress to be respected, pointing to the fact that Myanmar people had been working steadily for almost a decade to establish elections, civilian governance and the peaceful transfer of power.

The US promised to work with partners in the region and across the globe to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law in Myanmar, and to hold accountable those responsible for reversing the country’s democratic transition.

World leaders from countries including the UK, India, Australia and Germany, as well as the EU and the UN, have also condemned the coup in Myanmar. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the coup and the arrest of Myanmar’s democratically elected leaders represented “a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar”.

Moreover, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was set to hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Myanmar and a potential international response to the military’s power seizure.