Six months after grabbing power from the elected government in Myanmar, the military leader declared himself prime minister on Sunday. He said that he would continue to lead the country during an extended state of emergency until elections can be held in approximately two years.
Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing stated that “We must make conditions for a free, fair and impartial multiparty general election.” This was recorded during a televised address. “We must make preparations. I promise to hold the multiparty general elections without fail.”
He stated that the state of emergency would achieve its goals by August 2023. Separately, Min Aung Hlaing was named the prime minister and the military government “the caretaker” government.
On February 1, troops attacked the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, declaring the state of emergency. The generals claimed that the 2008 military constitution allowed the action. Although the military claimed that her victory in last year’s national elections was due to massive voter fraud, they did not offer any credible evidence.
Last Tuesday’s election results were officially nullified by the military government and a new commission was appointed to oversee the elections.
Massive protests were held against the military takeover, which led to a brutal crackdown by security forces that routinely fire live ammunition into crowds.
According to an independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 939 people had been killed since February 1, according Sunday’s tally. As armed resistance grows both in urban and rural areas, the number of casualties among police and military is also on the rise.
After an April summit in Jakarta, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations reached an agreement to appoint a special representative for Myanmar, moves by The Association of Southeast Asian Nations trying to broker a dialog between the military government’s opponents and their supporters have been rebuffed.
Min Aung Hlaing stated that the envoy was chosen by Virasakdi Furakul, Thailand’s former Deputy foreign minister. “But, for different reasons, we couldn’t keep moving forwards. He said that Myanmar was ready to cooperate with ASEAN within the ASEAN framework. This includes the dialogue with the ASEAN special representative in Myanmar.
ASEAN foreign ministers are expected to discuss Myanmar during virtual meetings hosted by Brunei this week, which is currently the chair of the 10-nation bloc.
Myanmar is also facing its worst COVID-19 epidemic, which has crippled its health care system. There are widespread accusations that the military may be directing oxygen supplies to military-run hospitals and government supporters because of restrictions on oxygen sales.
Authorities have also targeted medical professionals who led a civil disobedience campaign that encouraged civil servants and professionals not to cooperate with government officials.
Min Aung Hlaing attributed the public’s mistrust of the military’s efforts in controlling the outbreak to “fake information and misinformation via the social networks” and accused the people behind it of using COVID-19 as a tool for bioterrorism.