Myanmar’s junta chief yesterday said that elections would be held and a state of emergency lifted by August 2023, extending the initial timeline the military gave when it deposed Burmese State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi six months ago.
The country has been in turmoil since the army ousted the civilian leader in February, launching a bloody crackdown on dissent that has killed more than 900 people, according to a local monitoring group.
A resurgent COVID-19 wave has also amplified havoc, with many hospitals empty of pro-democracy medical staff, and the World Bank has forecast that the economy will contract by up to 18 percent.
In a televised address, Burmese Army Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said the military would “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 timeline the army announced days after the coup.
The State Administration Council — as the junta calls itself — also announced in a separate statement that Min Aung Hlaing had been appointed as the prime minister of the “caretaker government.”
The army has justified its power grab by alleging massive fraud during last year’s elections, won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in a landslide, and has threatened to dissolve the party.
Last week, the junta canceled the results of the polls, announcing that it had uncovered more than 11 million instances of voter fraud.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been detained since Feb. 1 and faces an eclectic raft of charges, from flouting COVID-19 restrictions to illegally importing walkie talkies, which could see her jailed for more than a decade.
International pressure, including sanctions targeting the military, has done little to knock the junta off course.
The regional 10-country ASEAN has tried to negotiate with the regime — although critics say the bloc lacks diplomatic clout and unity.
Across Myanmar, small groups of demonstrators marched yesterday, six months after soldiers launched the coup with pre-dawn raids ending a decade-long period of democracy.
Protesters in the northern town of Kale held banners reading “strength for the revolution,” while demonstrators set off flares at a march in the commercial capital Yangon.
“In the six months since the coup, the people of Myanmar have demonstrated remarkable courage and conviction in the face of widespread violence,” the US embassy in Myanmar said on its official Facebook page.
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