With Elected Leader Suu Kyi in Custody After Coup Attempt in Myanmar, Speculation Mounts About Coup Within Military

With Elected Leader Suu Kyi in Custody After Coup Attempt in Myanmar, Speculation Mounts About Coup Within Military

Protesters contest 8 Nov. election results in Yangon, Myanmar / Photo credit: Voice of America 


MYANMAR. Naypidyaw: The army is patrolling the Myanmar capital Naypyidaw and Yangon. Mobile networks and internet connections have been cut off in major cities. A spokesman for the National League for Democracy (NLD) said the army had detained several people, including President Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected leader of the embroiled nation. The new leadership was supposed to start on Feb 1. However, the army had been urging the government to postpone.

Accusations of a rigged election continue to divide Myanmar

On Jan. 29, the media reported fears of another coup in Myanmar. Myanmar's military has been accusing the election commissioner of rigging the Nov. 8 election. Suu Kyi's party won 83 percent of the seats. The military demanded that the votes be recounted, but Myanmar's election commissioner denied the allegations and has refused a recount.

According to the constitution drafted by the army, Suu Kyi is barred from becoming president. However, due to her absolute victory, the NLD demanded a change to the constitution. The Myanmar army responded by threatening to seize power again.

Myanmar's military said in a statement on Jan. 31 that it would run the country in accordance with the country's constitution and would not take part in any coup. Myanmar's military rule ended in 2011. However, 25 percent of the country's parliamentary seats are still reserved for Myanmar's military, and some key ministries are reserved for the military.

Various reactions call for upholding democracy

NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt told Democracy News Live, "Army soldiers had detained the newly elected chief ministers of various provinces, including President Mint. However, our party has requested the people not get involved in any kind of conflict and abide by the law. We want the army to abide by the law."

According to Reuters, a press release was issued on Suu Kyi's Facebook page. She called on the people to not accept the military coup and the dictator. And called for protests against it.

Faridul Alam, a political analyst and associate professor at Chittagong University, said to Democracy News Live, "A military coup in Myanmar was not a miracle. It is constitutionally legal in Myanmar. However, international pressure on Suu Kyi has increased. So Suu Kyi wants to be a little more democratic now. Since she was not actually benefiting from this. So Suu Kyi wants to take a different path. However, if the military continues to hold Suu Kyi as in the past, the danger will increase for them."

Will there be a coup d'état in the army?

According to Myanmar's constitutional rules, Min Aung Hlang, the Commander-In-Chief, must resign at the age of 60. Hlang, age 64, and his deputies renewed their powers for another five years from 2016. Analysts claim that mistrust has started in the Myanmar army as well. The current army chief is slated to retire in the next few months, but no successor has been named. Hlang is worried about who will protect him from the international sanctions against him, including the ICC (International Criminal Court) & ICJ (International Court of Justice) case. As a result, there is a possibility of a coup within the army.

Former Myanmar MP Shew Maung told Democracy News Live, "Although it's less likely now, there is still a possibility of a military coup. Because, 2020 election results were not as the military and its allies expected. They thought there would be no landslide victory and Hlang was expected to become president with the votes of military MPs, USDP MPs and some ethnic MPs. Secondly, Hlang must retire in a couple of months and he worries that the incoming Commander-In-Chief may not support or protect him, especially regarding cases at ICC and ICJ."

"Myanmar's political history is not democratic. Therefore, it is normal for there to be reciprocal events to take power. If a person enjoys power for more than 5 years, then the next expected person will also [attempt a] coup," said Lailufar Yasmin, International Relations Experts & Professor Dhaka University.

Imtiaz Ahmed, Diplomacy Expert & Professor of International Relations, Dhaka University thinks a military coup is inevitable. He told Democracy News Live, "It is not impossible that Myanmar will not have a military coup. With the collapse of the current army chief's party, he also wants to be president."

US Statement

A Jan. 31 White House statement categorically denounced the actions of the Myanmar army. "The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar's democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed. We are monitoring the situation closely and stand with the people of Burma, who have already endured so much in their quest for democracy and peace."

Tanbirul Miraj Ripon

Tanbirul Miraj Ripon

Tanbirul Miraj Ripon is an international award winning freelance journalist who has written extensively on Asian politics, conflict, international relations and cross-border terrorism.

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