-Army alleges election fraud
-Top leaders held by army
-Rohingya repatriation uncertain
Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the ruling party were detained in an early morning raid on Monday, the spokesman for the governing National League for Democracy said.
The move came after Myanmar’s powerful military triggered worry about a coup last week after threatening to “take action” over alleged fraud in a November election won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD).
The NLD led by Suu Kyi, a former political prisoner and figurehead of Myanmar’s long struggle against dictatorship, won 83% of available seats in the November 8 election seen as a referendum on her fledgling democratic government.
Who Rules In Myanmar?
Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, 75, came to power after a 2015 landslide election win that followed decades of house arrest in a struggle for democracy that turned her into an international icon.
Her international standing was damaged after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled army operations into refuge from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state in 2017, but she remains hugely popular at home.
The military, as the architect of Myanmar’s 2008 constitution and fledgling democracy, sees itself as the guardian of national unity and the constitution, and it has enshrined a permanent role for itself in the political system.
Known as the Tatmadaw, it gets an unelected quota of 25% of parliamentary seats and it controls the defence, interior and borders ministries, ensuring an important stake in politics.
Military Challenge the Latest Vote
The military alleged discrepancies such as duplicated names on voting lists in scores of districts and was unhappy with the election commission’s response to its complaints.
The military did not say if irregularities were substantial enough to have changed the election outcome.
Its grievance was similar to that of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the former ruling party created by the military before it officially ceded power in 2011.
The USDP, widely seen as a military proxy, was humiliated in the election, winning only 33 of 476 available seats.
Other parties react to election
Suu Kyi has not commented on her party’s election victory, nor on the military’s complaints, but the NLD said the military’s allegations were groundless and any election flaws would not have changed the outcome.
Of the more than 90 parties that contested the vote, at least 17 have complained of mostly minor irregularities and all except the USDP are smaller parties. Election observers have said the voting was without major irregularities.
The election commission on Thursday said there were no errors on a scale that could mean fraud or the election being discredited.
What Military Say
The spokesman for the armed forces, Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun, held a news conference last week on its allegations but gave a succession of non-committal answers to questions about the military’s intentions.
He said the military would “take action”, and use all available options including the Supreme Court. Asked if the military would cooperate with the new government and legislature, he told reporters “wait and watch”.
Asked if he would rule out a coup, Zaw Min Tun said “cannot say so”.
On Saturday, Myanmar’s military had said it would protect and abide by the constitution and act according to law.
What Constitution Say?
The constitution says the commander-in-chief can take power only in extreme circumstances that could cause “disintegration of the union, disintegration of national solidarity and loss of sovereign power”, but only during a state of emergency, which can only be declared by the civilian president.
The commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, caused intrigue last week when he told military personnel a constitution was a “mother law for all laws” and if not abided by, it should be revoked. He cited previous instances when that had happened in Myanmar.
State of emergency
Myanmar’s army declared a state of emergency on Monday as it carried out detentions of senior government leaders in response to alleged fraud during November’s general election.
A video address broadcast on military-owned television said power had been handed to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.
Here is the statement read out on Myawaddy Television (MWD):
“The voter lists which were used during the multi-party general election which was held on the 8th of November were found to have huge discrepancies and the Union Election Commission failed to settle this matter.
Although the sovereignty of the nation must derive from the people, there was terrible fraud in the voter list during the democratic general election which runs contrary to ensuring a stable democracy.A refusal to settle the issue of voter list fraud and a failure to take action and follow a request to postpone lower-house and upper-house parliament sessions is not in accordance with article 417 of the 2018 constitution that refers to ‘acts or attempts to take over the sovereignty of the Union by wrongful forcible means’ and could lead to a disintegration of national solidarity.
Due to such acts, there have been a lot of protests going on in townships and cities in Myanmar to demonstrate their mistrust toward UEC. Other parties and people have also been found conducting different kinds of provocations including displaying flags which are very damaging to national security.
Unless this problem is resolved, it will obstruct the path to democracy and it must therefore be resolved according to the law. Therefore, the state of emergency is declared in accordance with article 417 of the 2008 constitution.In order to perform scrutiny of the voter lists and to take action, the authority of the nation’s law making, governance and jurisdiction is handed over to the Commander in Chief in accordance with the 2008 constitution article 418, sub article (a).
The state of emergency is effective nationwide and the duration of the state of emergency is set for one year, starting from the date this order is announced in line with article 417 of the 2008 constitution.”
Suu Kyi urged
people to oppose
A verified Facebook account from Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party on Monday published a statement on behalf of detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, saying that people should not accept a military coup and should protest.
The NLD said the statement, which was uploaded on a Facebook page used by the party during its election campaign, was written before Monday’s coup had taken place. Reuters could not immediately reach NLD party officials for comment.
Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since she was detained in early morning raids along with other key party figures and activists.
“The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship,” said the statement, which carried leader Suu Kyi’s name but not her signature.
“I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.”
The statement was issued by the party chairman Win Htein, who in a handwritten note at the bottom stressed it was authentic and reflected Suu Kyi’s wishes.
“On my life I swear, that this request to the people is Aung San Suu Kyi’s genuine statement,” wrote Win Htein, who could not be reached by Reuters.