Myanmar leader tells his government taking power was inevitable

Topics Myanmar | Aung Sang Suu Kyi | unsc

Protest at the Embassy of Myanmar in Bangkok. Photo: Bloomberg
Myanmar's coup leader Min Aung Hlaing told the first meeting of his new government on Tuesday that it was inevitable the army would have to take power after its protests over alleged election fraud last year - which the electoral commission had dismissed, the army information service said. The army, known as the Tatmadaw, took power on Monday and overthrew elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

"Despite the Tatmadaw's repeated requests, this path was chosen inevitably for the country. Until the next government is formed after the upcoming election, we need to steer the country," Min Aung Hlaing was quoted as saying. "During the state of emergency, the election and fighting Covid-19 are set priorities."

The party of Myanmar's detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi called for her immediate release and for the miitary junta that seized power a day earlier to recognise her victory in an election in November.

The Nobel Peace laureate's whereabouts remained unknown more than 24 hours after her arrest in a military takeover that derailed Myanmar's tentative progress towards full democracy. While no protests have been reported, there have been acts of defiance, including a strike by medical staff. The military is back in power in Myanmar after a coup less than a decade after it launched a transition to democracy to end nearly half a century of direct army rule and international isolation. The military pledged to stick to its 2008 constitution and return power via a free and fair election but set no clear timeframe and the junta detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and purged her allies from the administration.

Phone and internet connections in the capital, Naypyitaw, and the commercial centre Yangon were disrupted and state television went off air. Yangon airport manager Phone Myint told Reuters the airport had closed until May but gave no exact date. The Myanmar Times newspaper reported permission to land and take off had been revoked for all flights, including relief flights, until 23:59 of May 31.

Ahead of the UNSC meet on the Myanmar coup, China, which shares close ties both with the Myanmar military and de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, on Tuesday said that all actions of the international community should contribute to political stability, peace and reconciliation in that country. The UN Security Council on Tuesday will discuss the situation in Myanmar and look at a "range of measures" with an idea of respecting the people's will expressed in the November election. The United States threatened to reimpose sanctions on the generals who seized power.

The World Bank on Tuesday said it was “gravely concerned” about events in Myanmar, calling the military’s actions a “major setback to the country’s transition and its development prospects.” The institution has funded projects ranging from electrification to education to Covid-19 relief.

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