Min Aung Hlaing’s coup and its aftermath remind us that power in Myanmar has always been exercised as a personal prerogative of leadership, whether military or civilian.
After Noeleen Heyzer met Min Aung Hlaing on Wednesday, a junta spokesman quickly declared it an ‘official meeting’ between the UN official and the ‘Myanmar government’.
It may be Min Aung Hlaing’s main arms dealer and the only country willing to let him enter, but even Russia is reluctant to lend his presence much official weight.
Coming on the heels of the general’s humiliating ASEAN snub, the ex-US diplomat’s visit gave Min Aung Hlaing’s internal propaganda campaign a timely shot in the arm.
The people will continue to fight to restore the election result that was stolen from them one year ago.
Recent events in Myanmar and Afghanistan offer the West a lesson: successful governments generate legitimacy first, and only later create a security force to protect it.