Myanmar leader announces extension of state of emergency

BANGKOK-

The leader of Myanmar’s military-installed government announced on Monday the extension of his term to rule for another six months in preparation for elections he said will take place next year.

The army seized power on February 1 last year from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. He cited alleged fraud in the November 2020 general election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party had won in a landslide while the military-backed party did poorly.

Independent election monitors said they found no evidence of substantial wrongdoing, and the military’s takeover was met with widespread nonviolent protests across the country. Security forces used lethal force to disperse them, prompting armed resistance from pro-democracy forces. Since then, escalating violence has plunged Myanmar into what UN experts have described as a civil war.

Chief General Min Aung Hlaing, head of the ruling State Administration Council, said in a speech broadcast on Monday that the state of emergency declared after last year’s seizure of power was extended because time was needed to prepare for new elections. , or as an official announcement of the extension, he said, “continue working so that the country returns to the path of a peaceful and disciplined multiparty democratic system and the holding of multiparty democratic general elections.”

The military originally declared that new elections would be held a year after she took power, but later said they would take place in 2023. There are many doubts that they will be free and fair, because most of Suu Kyi’s party leaders they have been imprisoned. , and there is a strong possibility that the party itself will be dissolved by the pro-military courts.

Min Aung Hlaing said that the military had done its best to fulfill its responsibilities since taking power.

“However, terrorists based inside and outside the country and the people and organizations that support them are committed to the total devastation of Myanmar, instead of trying to promote democracy in Myanmar,” he said.

While some opponents of the military government have employed tactics that include assassinations and bombings, the army labels nearly all those who oppose it as “terrorists.”

UN experts and rights groups are more critical of the government’s crackdown, which according to reliable reports includes arbitrary arrests and killings, torture, and military raids that include airstrikes and the burning of entire villages.

“To ensure that there is no injustice, threats or coercion in the upcoming elections, armed conflicts must cease,” said Min Aung Hlaing, in what appeared to be a reference to the government’s ongoing military operations against minority ethnic groups. as well as the pro-democracy forces and their supporters.

“In order to hold the elections, we will accelerate the efforts of our public security system to stabilize the nation’s politics and security,” he said.

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