Myanmar’s military ruler has promised multi-party elections and the lifting of the state of emergency by August 2023, extending an initial timeline given when he deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government earlier this year.
The general announced in a televised speech on Sunday six months after the coup d’état on February 1 that Myanmar would be placed under military control for nearly two and a half years—not the first year announced by the army a few days after seizing power. schedule.
Since the coup, Myanmar has been in turmoil, and the military has faced protests and strikes that paralyzed the public and private sectors. According to local monitoring organizations, in the ensuing crackdown, security forces killed more than 900 people, and the resurgence of armed conflicts in border areas further complicated the situation.
The surge in COVID-19 infection has also exacerbated the damage. Many hospitals have no medical staff because doctors and nurses have launched a civil disobedience movement, urging professionals and civil servants not to cooperate with the military.
In his speech, Min Aung Hlaing stated that the military authorities “must create conditions for holding free and fair multi-party elections.”
“We must be prepared,” he said. “I promise to hold a multi-party general election.” He added that the military will “complete the state of emergency regulations by August 2023.”
Also on Sunday, state media reported that Min Aung Lai was serving as prime minister in the newly formed caretaker government. The general served as the chairman of the National Administrative Council established just after the coup, which has been running Myanmar since then, and the caretaker government will replace it.
“In order to perform state responsibilities quickly, easily and effectively, the National Administrative Council has been reorganized into the caretaker government of Myanmar,” said the news announcer of the National Myawaddy Television.
Al Jazeera’s Tony Cheng reported in neighbouring Thailand’s Bangkok that the military granted itself powers in a state of emergency to enable it to cancel the November election results won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD). Landslides. The military justified its actions by claiming that the vote was fraudulent, but the Election Commission denied this accusation.
“If new elections are held under this circumstance, no one will think they are free or fair,” Cheng said.
Noting the continued resistance to military rule in various parts of Myanmar, Zheng added: “From the very beginning, there was strong opposition from people from all over the country on the streets. We also saw most of the divisions in Burmese society. Many people joined the civil society. Obey the movement, which makes the banking system, health care, and transportation system completely ineffective.
“This is especially important now because the fourth wave of COVID-19 has just swept through Myanmar. This puts a lot of pressure on the military to be seen as doing something.”
Human Rights Watch Myanmar researcher Manni Maung said that human rights organizations have determined that in the six months since the coup, the military government has committed many crimes against civilians.
Maung told Al Jazeera: “We have seen that the large-scale suppression across the country seems to be coordinated and systematic.” “In essence, we have seen civilians under constant attacks and need to be investigated.”
The military is also facing increasing international condemnation. In June, the UN General Assembly urged member states to “prevent the flow of weapons” into Myanmar.
“We need to see more unified and coordinated strengthening and targeted sanctions,” Maung said. “This means cutting off military channels to obtain revenue streams and funds from extractive industries, especially natural gas revenue,” she added, calling on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution to formally implement the arms embargo.
“We want to see preventing states from selling any weapons that the military can use for their own people.”
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional group leading diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Myanmar, reached a five-point consensus with Min Aung Hlaing in April, calling for an end to the violence in the country, and a dialogue between the parties to expand humanitarian assistance. Enter the conflict-affected area and appoint a special envoy.
World powers including Russia, China and the United States all support the plan, although the military has not shown the intention to insist on implementation.
But Min Aung Lay promised to cooperate with ASEAN on Sunday, saying that “Myanmar is ready to carry out ASEAN cooperation within the framework of ASEAN, including dialogue with the ASEAN Special Envoy in Myanmar.”
The EU foreign ministers are scheduled to meet on Monday, and diplomats said their goal is to finalize a special envoy whose mission is to end violence and promote dialogue between the military and its opponents.
In Myanmar on Sunday, a small group of demonstrators marched to commemorate the past six months after the coup. Protesters in the northern town of Kale held signs that read “Revolutionary Forces.” People in the commercial capital Yangon breathed a sigh of relief. Burning in the parade.