Monday early morning Myanmar woke up to detaining of its civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and senior leaders by the country’s powerful and authoritative military. This was followed by a declaration of emergency in Myanmar with power seize in the long-feared coup.
Coup was accompanied with panic and uncertainty in air accompanied by internet and telecommunications blackout, closed banks and armed soldiers patrolling streets of Yangon, country’s largest city. Television was only tuning in to military-owned Myawaddy channel. It was like people of country were cut off from the rest of the world overnight. Just a few hours before new parliament’s first session was set to begin, Myawaddy channel announced that power was now in hands of army chief Min Aung Hlaing. Accompanied was news of detention of Suu Kyi and NLD or National League for Democracy leaders. The reason for coup is said to be November election voting irregularities, which had shown NLD’s victory with 83% votes.
The past few weeks had seen political tensions in Myanmar that were worsening over time. A military coup was imminent and feared.
World leaders have condemned the coup with the US calling on military leaders of Myanmar to “release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people.”
Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing is under US sanctions since December 2019 over human rights abuses against the Rohingya Muslim community. Hlaing’s office has released a statement that after the voter list is investigated and revised, elections will take place. The statement said, “A free and fair multiparty general elections will be held and then, state responsibilities will be handed over to the winning party meeting norms and standards of democracy.”
Military coup has brought back old memories of oppressive military control of over 50 years with a shudder, before democracy was brought in 2011. Monday would have been the second term commencement of Suu Kyi’s government after she came to power in 2015 after a fair and open election. November re-election with a major win led to fear of coup by military that has always been controlling, even from behind the scene.
Military has made it clear that it would hold power for a year during which there will be a state of emergency in Myanmar. But people will not be willing to go under military control again, that is for sure according to experts. The timing is in favor of military.
Gerard McCarthy, a postdoctoral fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute says, “Seizing power for a year as it has announced will isolate non-Chinese international partners, harm the military’s commercial interests and provoke escalating resistance from millions of people who placed Suu Kyi and the NLD in power for in another term of government.”
Experts believe that the situation in Myanmar can still be solved through negotiation. The key aim of this coup is to improve the military’s public standing, but citing the public’s outlook it seems highly unlikely. Downhill would be if protests start in Myanmar, which will be straight civic unrest and catastrophe at hands of the military with a track record of human rights abuses.