Myanmar’s military has officially postponed the promised election, which was supposed to take place by August this year, citing ongoing violence as the reason for the delay. The military had imposed a state of emergency following its coup in 2021, and this state of emergency has now been extended.
Myanmar’s Military Postpones Election
The announcement made on state television revealed that the military believes it does not have enough control to conduct the elections and has been unable to quell the widespread opposition to its rule. The opposition includes both armed resistance and nonviolent protests and civil disobedience.
The state of emergency was declared after the military arrested the elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other top officials from her government, as well as members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party on February 1, 2021. The military claimed widespread fraud in the November 2020 election, which brought the NLD to power, as the reason for its takeover, thereby reversing years of progress towards democracy in Myanmar after decades of military rule.
Initially, the military announced that new elections would be held one year after the coup, but the date was later shifted to August 2023. However, the current extension of the state of emergency has cast doubts on the possibility of holding elections anytime soon.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the coup leader, stated that the elections cannot take place due to the ongoing fighting in various regions and states, including Sagaing, Magway, Bago, Tanintharyi, Karen, Kayah, and Chin. He emphasized the need for systematic preparation and cautioned against rushing into elections.
The extension of the state of emergency grants the military sweeping powers, enabling it to assume all government functions, including legislative, judicial, and executive powers. Nay Phone Latt, a spokesperson for the National Unity Government (NUG), referred to as the legitimate government by the group itself, expected the extension, attributing it to the junta’s desire to cling to power. He asserted that the revolutionary groups would continue their efforts to accelerate their current activities.
In response to the military’s decision, the United States expressed concern that extending the state of emergency would lead Myanmar further into violence and instability. The State Department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, condemned the military regime’s brutal actions since overthrowing the democratically elected government, including airstrikes, destruction of homes, and displacement of millions of people.
The Myanmar’s military crackdown on dissent has resulted in the deaths of more than 3,800 people, with over 24,000 arrests, as reported by a local monitoring group. The military, on the other hand, claims that more than 5,000 civilians have been killed by what they term as “terrorists” since the coup.
Despite diplomatic efforts led by the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to end the conflict, the military has refused to engage with its opponents, leading to a stalemate in the efforts to resolve the crisis.