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Myanmar’s Junta Extends State of Emergency, Further Postponing Elections

Photo: AFP

Myanmar’s military rulers have announced a further six-month extension of the state of emergency, a move that delays the promised elections once again since the military seized power on February 1, 2021. The extension was declared on Wednesday by Vice President U Myint Swe, who has been acting as the president since the coup. The junta’s statement justified the extension on the grounds that the country’s situation has yet to return to normalcy. It also cited the ongoing need to combat what it labels as “terrorist” threats, a term it has frequently used to describe armed resistance groups and opponents of military rule. The military, known as the Tatmadaw, initially took control of Myanmar, ousting the democratically elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi. The coup led to widespread protests and civil disobedience movements across the nation, which the military has attempted to suppress through increasingly repressive measures. Since the coup, the state of emergency has been renewed multiple times. The country has seen an escalation in civil conflict, with clashes occurring between the Tatmadaw and various ethnic armed organizations, as well as newly formed People’s Defense Forces (PDFs) that oppose the military regime. The junta’s efforts to consolidate power have been met with both domestic and international condemnation.

According to the 2008 constitution of Myanmar, which was drafted by a previous military government, elections are to be held within six months of the end of the state of emergency. The military has claimed adherence to this constitution since the coup, but the repeated extensions of the state of emergency have continuously pushed back the timeline for any potential return to civilian rule.
The international community has been largely critical of the military’s actions, with many countries imposing sanctions on Myanmar’s military leaders and calling for a restoration of democracy. However, efforts by the United Nations and ASEAN to mediate the crisis have so far been unsuccessful.
The situation in Myanmar remains highly volatile, with reports of human rights abuses and displacements of civilians continuing to emerge. The repeated delays in holding elections contribute to the uncertainty and instability, with the prospects for a peaceful resolution to the crisis appearing increasingly challenging.
Observers and foreign governments have urged the junta to engage in dialogue with opposition forces and to restore democratic processes. However, the military’s recent actions suggest that it is not yet ready to relinquish control, further complicating the path forward for Myanmar.
By Cora Sulleyman

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