Myanmar leader announces extension of emergency

BANGKOK (AP) – The leader of Myanmar’s military-installed government announced on Monday the extension of his mandate to govern by six months to prepare for an election he says will take place next year.

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

Independent election observers said they found no evidence of genuine irregularities, 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 by pro-democracy forces. Myanmar has been described by UN experts as a civil war since the escalation of violence.

Senior General Min Aung Huling, the head of the ruling State Administration Council, said in a broadcast speech on Monday that the state of emergency declared after last year’s takeover had been extended as time was needed to prepare for new elections, or official announcements. As Vistara said, “Continuing to work to put the country back on the path of a peaceful and disciplined multi-party democratic system and to conduct multi-party democratic general elections.”

The military had originally announced that new elections would be held a year after its takeover, but later said they would be held in 2023. There is considerable doubt that they will be free and fair, as most of the leaders of Suu Kyi’s party have been locked up. , and there is a high probability that the party itself will be dissolved by the pro-military courts.

Min Aung Huling said the military had done its best to “discharge its responsibilities” since seizing power.

“However, terrorists based inside and outside the country and the people and organizations supporting them, rather than trying to nurture democracy in Myanmar, are committed to the complete devastation of Myanmar,” he said.

While some opponents of the military regime have adopted tactics including assassinations and bombings, the military calls almost all those who oppose it “terrorists”.

UN experts and rights groups are more critical of government repression, including arbitrary arrests and killings, torture, and military sweeps that have included airstrikes and the burning of entire villages.

“The armed conflict must cease to ensure that there is no unfairness, intimidation or coercion in the coming election,” Min Aung Huling said. Also pro-democracy forces and their supporters.

“To be able to hold elections, we will accelerate efforts to stabilize the nation’s politics and security through our public security system,” he said.

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