In one swift operation, Myanmar’s military establishment has wiped out a decade of the country’s democratization process. By arresting President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the rest of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) leadership, and declaring military rule under a state of emergency for at least a year, General Min Aung Hlaing has made it clear that it is the military that is in charge, and he is not particularly concerned about the opposition to or condemnation of the move. The immediate reason for the coup was that the newly elected National Assembly was due to meet in Naypyidaw on Monday, despite the Tatmadaw’s (Army’s) claims that the November general elections had several irregularities and its contestation of the NLD’s landslide victory. Ms. Suu Kyi had refused to bow to Gen. Hlaing’s demand that the results, which also saw the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party with a reduced strength in Parliament, be set aside. Clearly, the Army, which still nominates a fourth of the parliamentary seats and retains the important Defence, Borders, and Interior portfolios, felt it was better to dismiss the NLD government before it increased its clout. Gen. Hlaing is due to retire this year, and it is possible that the move was meant to extend his longevity in power. Backed by a silent Beijing, the junta leadership may also have gambled that it was better to take drastic action against the democratic leaders before the new U.S. administration finds its feet.
Her National League for Democracy (NLD) demanded her immediate release on Tuesday. It has also called upon the military to accept the results of the November election, which saw the NLD win more than 80% of the votes.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by the armed forces until 2011, when a nominally civilian government was sworn in.
Where is Myanmar?
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is in Southeast Asia and neighbors Thailand, Laos, Bangladesh, China, and India.
It has a population of about 54 million, most of whom speak Burmese, although other languages are also spoken. The biggest city is Yangon (Rangoon) but the capital is Nay Pyi Taw.
The main religion is Buddhism. There are many ethnic groups in the country, including the Rohingya Muslims.
The ruling military changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989, a year after thousands of people were killed in a crackdown on a popular uprising. The country was ruled by the armed forces from 1962 until 2011, when a new government began ushering in a return to civilian rule.
What has happened now, and why?
The military has once more taken over the country, declaring a year-long state of emergency.
It seized control following a general election which Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.
The armed forces had backed the opposition, who were demanding a re-run of the vote, claiming widespread fraud.
The election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims. The coup was staged as a new session of parliament was set to open. Who is in charge now?
The military says that power has been handed over to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.
He has long wielded significant political influence, successfully maintaining the power of the Tatmadaw – Myanmar’s military – even as the country transitioned towards democracy.
He has received international condemnation and sanctions for his alleged role in the military’s attacks on ethnic minorities.
The military has already replaced numerous ministers and deputies, including in finance, health, the interior, and foreign affairs.
Who is Aung San Suu Kyi?
Aung San Suu Kyi became world-famous in the 1990s for campaigning to restore democracy in Myanmar.
She spent nearly 15 years in detention between 1989 and 2010 after organizing rallies calling for peaceful democratic reform and free elections.
She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest in 1991 for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.
In 2015, she led her NLD party to victory in Myanmar’s first openly contested election in 25 years.
What about the crackdown on Rohingya?
Ms Suu Kyi’s international reputation has suffered greatly as a result of Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya minority group.
Myanmar considers them illegal immigrants and denies them citizenship. Over decades, many have fled to escape persecution.
Thousands of Rohingyas were killed and more than 700,000 fled to Bangladesh following an army crackdown in 2017.
Ms Suu Kyi appeared before the International Court of Justice in 2019, where she denied the military had committed genocide.
SANCTIONS BY US
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday ordered new sanctions against the military regime in Myanmar, taking action after the military this month staged a coup in the Southeast Asian country and arrested de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior politicians.
Mr Biden said he was issuing an executive order that will prevent Myanmar’s generals from accessing $1 billion in assets in the United States. Mr Biden added that more measures are to come.
Mr. Biden said the new sanctions will allow his administration to freeze U.S. assets that benefit Myanmar’s military leaders while maintaining support for health care programs, civil society groups and other areas that benefit the country’s people. He said the administration planned to identify specific targets of the sanctions later this week.
Britain said it would enforce immediate asset freezes and travel bans against the three members of the Myanmar military: the minister of defence, Mya Tun Oo, the minister for home affairs, Soe Htut, and deputy minister for home affairs Than Hlaing.
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