Daily US Times: Myanmar’s military has taken control of the country a decade after agreeing to hand over the power to a civilian government. The coup has sent a shudder of fear across the country, which endured almost 50 years of rule under brutal military regimes before the move towards democratic rule in 2011.
The early morning arrests of the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians were all too reminiscent of days many hoped they had left behind.
Suu Kyi and her once-banned National League for Democracy (NLD) party led the country for the past five years, after being elected in 2015 in the most free and fair vote seen in 25 years.
But behind the scenes, the military has kept a relatively tight grip on Myanmar, thanks to a constitution which guarantees it a quarter of all parliament seats and control of the country’s most powerful ministries.
Which raises the question why did the military coup takes place now – and more to the point, what happens next?
The exact timing is easy to explain, as the BBC’s reported citing its South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head: Monday morning should have been the first session of parliament, which in turn would have enshrined the result. This now won’t happen.
Elections in November saw the Suu Kyi’s party win more than 80% of the vote, remaining hugely popular even in the face of allegations of genocide against the country’s minority Rohingya Muslims.
The military-backed opposition immediately began making accusations of voter fraud. The allegation was repeated after the coup was announced to justify the imposition of the year-long state of emergency.
Myint Swe, a former general who had been vice-president, said: “The UEC [election commission] failed to solve huge voter list irregularities in the multi-party general election which was held on 8 November 2020.”
Experts are not sure of exactly why the military acted now, as there seems little to gain.
Gerard McCarthy, a postdoctoral fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute, told the BBC: “It is worth remembering that the current system is tremendously beneficial for the army: it has complete command autonomy, sizeable international investment in its commercial interests and political cover from civilians for war crimes.”
“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.”
He said, perhaps, they hope to improve the USDP’s standings in future elections, but the risks of such a move “are significant”.