JAKARTA: Myanmar’s coup left the military in power of a one-year state of emergency, while Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader, and other senior politicians were jailed. Here is a glimpse at what could be behind the actions of the military.
Why now? Why not now?
Following the November elections, Monday was expected to be the first day of a new parliamentary session that Suu Kyis’ party won in a landslide and in which the military-backed party did badly. In that referendum, the military alleged that systematic anomalies on the electoral lists may have led to bribery, although the election commission reported that there was no proof to support such allegations.
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But the announcement of the takeover on military-owned Myawaddy TV cited the government’s inability as part of the justification for the decision to act on the accusations.
It also claimed that it was behind the inability of the government to delay the elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The military insists that its acts are constitutionally justified, and the declaration quoted a clause in the constitution authorising the military to take power in times of emergency, while the spokesman of Suu Kyi’s party and several outsiders have said that it is essentially a coup.
Some observers expressed puzzlement that, amid advances in democracy in recent years, the military will move to upset the status quo in which the generals continue to hold considerable influence.
Some, however, acknowledged the impending retirement of Gen Min Aung Hlaing, who has been an armed forces commander since 2011 and who was placed in charge on Monday.
“There is internal military politics around that, which is very opaque,” said Kim Jolliffe, a civil and military affairs researcher in Myanmar. This could represent those complexities and could be something of an internal takeover and his means of retaining military control.