Myanmar “back under a dictatorship” after Military seizes power

Myanmar “back under a dictatorship” after military seizes power

Myanmar’s military seized power on Monday in a coup against Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government.

Myanmar’s new Parliament was due to meet for the first time since the National League for Democracy (NLD) party won the landslide November election.

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and other officials of her party were detained in early morning raids before the meeting.

Aung San Suu Kyi
Photo: Cathal McNaughton via the Telegraph

Western powers have condemned the coup for disrupting years of international efforts to establish democracy in the region. Questions have even been raised about the prospect of returning a million Rohingya refugees. The U.N. Security Council will meet on Tuesday amid calls for a strong response.

After days of tension, the coup arose between the Burmese military and civilian government following the country’s recent election. Suu Kyi’s party won 83% of the vote prompting allegations of voting fraud in the election.

An army takeover is set to put Myanmar (formerly Burma) “back under a dictatorship”, the pre-written statement on Facebook quoted Suu Kyi as saying.

“The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship,” the NLD’s statement carrying Suu Kyi’s name read. “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.” 

A spokesperson for the military confirmed that the commander in chief of Myanmar’s Tatmadaw armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, would rule the country for the next year.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing
Photo: LiveTube

The statement was broadcast on the military-owned Myawaddy Television station, although the military failed to prove fraud.

“The voter lists which were used during the multi-party general election which was held on November 8 were found to have huge discrepancies and the Union Election Commission failed to settle this matter,” a military spokesperson said.

“Although the sovereignty of the nation must derive from the people, there was terrible fraud in the voter list during the democratic general election, which runs contrary to ensuring a stable democracy.”

In an article on their official website, the military said a free and fair election would be held and it would hand power to the winning party. However, no timeframe for the elections has been given.

75-year-old Suu Kyi came to power in 2015 following decades of house arrest in a struggle for democracy against Myanmar’s military government, turning her into an international icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

However, her international reputation was damaged after hundreds of thousands of members of the Rohingyan minority fled military operations in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state in 2017. While she remains popular in Myanmar, many have called her inaction as permitting cultural genocide against the Rohingya people.

The Rohingya are an ethnic minority group who follow Islam in the Buddhist-majority nation.

The NLD beat a pro-military party in the November election, capturing 396 out of 476 seats in the combined Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament, far above the 322 needed to secure a majority.

However, Myanmar’s army-drafted constitution of 2008 grants the military 25 per cent of the total seats, enough to block constitutional changes – which leaves outright overtones of a new militia-run dictatorship.

Needless to say, this has prompted international outrage from Western nations and the UN. Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison said the reports from Myanmar were “troubling.”

“These are rather disturbing developments,” ScoMo said. “We’ve been a long-standing supporter of Myanmar’s democratic transition, including the election in November.” 

However, Morrison has yet to directly criticise or threaten retaliation towards the Burmese military.

The White House confirmed that US President Joe Biden had been briefed on the recent arrest of Ms Suu Kyi.

“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

China, who shares a border with Myanmar, has had a more subdued response following the news. “We have noted what has happened in Myanmar and are in the process of further understanding the situation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

“China is a friendly neighbour of Myanmar’s. We hope that all sides in Myanmar can appropriately handle their differences under the constitution and legal framework and safeguard political and social stability,” he added.

While some believe the Coup serves a solely political purpose, others believe there is also a financial incentive.

Grassroots campaign group, Justice for Myanmar, said Monday’s coup was not just about preserving Min Aung Hlaing’s political influence, but also his wealth, saying in a statement that the general “has exploited his position as commander-in-chief for his personal gain, and today’s coup extends that power and privilege.”