Myanmar military ruler extends coup with promise of elections in 2023

Sunday, 01 August 2021 - 14:30

Myanmar+military+ruler+extends+coup+with+promise+of+elections+in+2023
Myanmar’s junta chief has said elections will be held and a state of emergency lifted by August 2023 – extending the timeline given when the military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi six months ago.

In a televised address, junta leader Min Aung Hlaing said “we will accomplish the provisions of the state of emergency by August 2023”.

“I pledge to hold multiparty elections without fail,” he added.

The general’s announcement would place Myanmar in the military’s grip for nearly two and a half years – instead of the initial one year the junta announced days after the coup.

He said the junta was ready to work with any special envoy named by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

“Myanmar is ready to work on Asean cooperation within the Asean framework, including the dialogue with the Asean special envoy in Myanmar.”

Asean foreign ministers are to meet on Monday, when diplomats say they aim to finalise a special envoy tasked with ending violence and promoting dialogue between the junta and its opponents.

In April, the junta agreed to a five point “consensus” with Asean, which called for an end to violence, political talks and the naming of a regional special envoy.

Myanmar has endured six months of turmoil since the military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and ended the country’s decade-old experiment with democracy.

The junta has consolidated its position after a lethal crackdown on street protests, which have continued in a limited form despite the violence that has seen almost 1,000 people killed.

In late July the junta cancelled the results of 2020 polls, claiming more than 11m instances of voter fraud.

“Myanmar’s junta has responded to massive popular opposition to the coup with killings, torture, and arbitrary detention of people who merely want last year’s election results to be respected and a government that reflects the popular will,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“These attacks on the population amount to crimes against humanity for which those responsible should be brought to account.”

Adding to the chaos in the country, tens of thousands of civil servants and other workers have either been sacked for joining protests or are still on strike in support of a nationwide civil disobedience campaign.

A coronavirus outbreak has overwhelmed the healthcare system, with many hospitals empty due to a work boycott by pro-democracy medical staff.

In June, the UN general assembly passed a rare motion condemning the coup and demanding the restoration of the country’s democratic transition.