Yangon (AP) – After the military coup in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country will hold new elections in August 2023. Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing announced in a lengthy televised speech on Sunday that the state of emergency would be extended until then.
The junta also announced that Min Aung Hlaing has been appointed prime minister of a “transitional government”. Exactly six months earlier, on February 1 of this year, the army had come to power. The state of emergency was initially supposed to last a year, then was extended to two and now to two and a half years.
In his 51-minute speech, the junta chief renewed his allegations against the overthrown government. He accused Aung San Suu Kyi of abuse of power and claimed that the November 2020 general election had been rigged.
Protests in Myanmar continue
In the cities of Mandalay and Yangon, despite the corona wave in the country, protesters have again taken to the streets, local media report. Since the coup, the former Burma has sunk into chaos and violence. “The people have to face the abuse by (Juntachef) Min Aung Hlaing and the abuse by Covid-19,” said Lin Aung Khant of Yangon of the German news agency. There is no future, said the man who volunteered to help people in his community. “Some have nothing to eat.”
Myanmar’s generals had staged a coup exactly six months ago to overthrow the government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The head of government, who has become an icon, is said to have become increasingly dangerous to the military, which after decades in power had been given a clear voice in parliament and government through the 2008 constitution. The resistance of the population, demanding the restoration of civilian rule, is brutally suppressed by the junta. More than 930 people have died so far, according to estimates by the prisoner relief organization AAPP. Nearly 7,000 were arrested.
The November 2020 parliamentary election results have been officially declared invalid by the military. Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest since the coup, had clearly won the elections with her National League for Democracy (NLD) party. However, the generals had questioned the result, citing alleged fraud as the reason for the coup. The junta promised to hold elections within two years.
Meanwhile, Suu Kyi has been charged with half a dozen violations. Observers and human rights experts suspect that the junta will eventually try to silence the politician through the process. At the time, the 76-year-old was under house arrest for a total of 15 years because of her resistance struggle. Meanwhile, the population continues to resist the junta in nationwide protests. Many young people went to the jungle to participate in military training for armed groups. Skirmishes broke out between the army and resistance fighters.
The human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the rulers in Myanmar of crimes against humanity. These include murder, enforced disappearance, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, it said in a statement on Saturday. “These attacks amount to crimes against humanity for which those responsible must be held accountable,” said Brad Adams, director of HRW Asia. The organization called on foreign governments to cut gas imports from the Southeast Asian country and cut off the junta from its main source of foreign currency.
According to a statement, the journalists’ organization Reporters Without Borders sees the end of media freedom in the country as the seal of the coup. The military withdrew their licenses from at least eight media organizations. Dozens of journalists are said to have been arrested. Including reporters who covered the resistance against the junta.
Myanmar is also struggling with a severe corona wave. According to the Ministry of Health, led by the junta, thousands of positive cases and hundreds of deaths related to the virus are recorded every day. The numbers are likely to be even higher, as many civilians fear the military and refuse to undergo testing or treatment in state hospitals. “Covid-19 is everywhere and people are dying in their homes,” said Lin Aung Khant.