On This Day

The Day Myanmar’s Military Refuses to Rule Out Coup Option

By The Irrawaddy 26 January 2022

On this day last year, Myanmar’s military warned that it would take action if the dispute over the 2020 election was not settled, and declined to rule out staging a coup if its demands were not met.

The military had repeatedly called on the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, the Union Election Commission (UEC) or outgoing parliamentarians to prove that the 2020 general election was free and fair so that it could accept the result.

At a press conference in Naypyitaw on January 26, just four days before the newly-elected Parliament was scheduled to convene, military spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun said that the military would continue its efforts using all means at its disposal in compliance with the constitution and existing laws until the election dispute was settled.

When a reporter asked the spokesperson to clarify whether the vow to comply with the law meant that the military had no plans to seize power, the spokesperson immediately replied, “No.”

Against the backdrop of a series of nationwide pro-military rallies and protests targeting the UEC, his statement promoted widespread concerns about a possible coup by the military.

In response, the UEC called on the concerned parties to file complaints for alleged fraud cases in line with electoral laws. It said no individual or organization could change election results against the law, and that the wishes of the voters could not be compromised.

On January 30, Myanmar’s military said that it would protect and abide by the 2008 Constitution and act according to law. Many interpreted its announcement as an assurance that it would not seize power. That was also because newly-elected lawmakers and military-appointed parliamentarians were already in Naypyitaw to attend the opening of the new parliament.

But the military did stage a coup, seizing power from the NLD government on February 1 last year. The junta, however, is struggling to rule the country nearly one year on from the putsch. Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has admitted that he had not expected such strong resistance from the Myanmar people.

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