After officially extending the state of emergency it declared in the wake of its 2021 coup, Myanmar’s military has postponed an election that had been scheduled for August of this year.
The military cited persistent violence as the cause of the election delay in a statement on state television on Monday.
The statement read, “Necessary security arrangements still need to be made in order to have an election that is free and fair and also to be able to vote without any fear, so the period for the state of emergency has been extended.”
The declaration amounted to an acknowledgment that the military lacks sufficient control to conduct elections and has failed to quell widespread resistance to its rule, which includes increasingly difficult armed resistance as well as peaceful rallies and civil disobedience.
On February 1, 2021, forces detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi along with senior members of her government and her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, resulting in the declaration of the state of emergency. For its power grab, the military blamed the election that brought the NLD back to power and was held in November 2020 on extensive fraud.
After Myanmar had been governed by the military for fifty years, the coup d’état undid years of progress toward democracy.
New elections were initially scheduled to take place a year following the military’s takeover, but they were later changed to August 2023.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the coup, however, stated at the conference on Monday that the continuation of fighting in the Sagaing, Magway, Bago, and Tanintharyi regions as well as the Karen, Kayah, and Chin states prevented the election from taking place.
According to the MRTV broadcaster, he informed the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC), which is supported by the military, that “we need to continue our duty for a time to continue our systematic preparation as we shouldn’t hold coming elections in a rush.”
The report from Monday simply mentioned that the polls will take place after the objectives of the state of emergency were met; it did not specify when they may be held.
The fourth extension of the emergency empowers the military to take over all governmental duties and gives Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the governing council, control over the legislative, judicial, and executive branches.
The prolongation of the state of emergency was anticipated, according to Nay Phone Latt, a spokesperson for the National Unity Government (NUG), which describes itself as the nation’s legitimate government.
Because the generals have a hunger for power and don’t want to relinquish it, the junta extended the state of emergency. Regarding the revolutionary organizations, we will keep attempting to speed up our existing revolutionary actions, he told the news agency The Associated Press.
The People’s Defense Forces and the NUG are both classified as “terrorists” by the military.
The United States reacted angrily to the military’s declaration by warning that prolonging the state of emergency will drag Myanmar “further into violence and instability.”
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller used a different name for the nation and said, “Since overthrowing a democratically elected government two and a half years ago, the military regime has carried out hundreds of airstrikes, burned down tens of thousands of homes, and displaced more than 1.6 million people.”
“The regime’s widespread brutality and disregard for the democratic aspirations of the people of Burma continue to prolong the crisis,” he continued.
According to a local monitoring organization, the military’s crackdown on opposition has resulted in more than 24,000 arrests and more than 3,800 deaths. The military claims that since taking control, “terrorists” have killed over 5,000 civilians.
As a result of the military’s refusal to negotiate with its foes, diplomatic efforts to settle the crisis being led by the UN and the regional bloc of ASEAN have faltered.