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Myanmar junta extends state of emergency by 6 months

By AFP

January 31, 2024 07:09 PM


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Myanmar's junta on Wednesday extended a state of emergency by six months, again delaying elections the military has promised to hold as it battles opposition across the country.

The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since the February 2021 coup which ended a ten-year experiment with democracy and sparked mass protests and a crackdown on dissent.

Three years on, the junta is struggling to crush widespread armed opposition to its rule and recently suffered a series of stunning setbacks to an alliance of ethnic minority armed groups.

Acting president U Myint Swe "announced the extension of the state of emergency for another six months" at a meeting of the national defence and security council, the junta said in a statement.

The extension of the state of emergency -- due to expire at midnight on Wednesday -- was needed to "continue the process of combatting terrorists," the statement added.

The council discussed "preparations for holding multi-party elections" and the holding of a national census at a meeting in the military-built capital Naypyidaw, it said, without giving details.

The military declared a state of emergency when it ousted Aung San Suu Kyi's government in February 2021, citing unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud in 2020 elections her party won in a landslide.

It has extended the state of emergency multiple times since, delaying fresh elections it has promised to hold.

Myanmar's military-drafted 2008 constitution, which the junta has said is still in force, requires authorities to hold fresh elections within six months of a state of emergency being lifted.

 

- Chaos -

 

A surprise offensive in late October by an alliance of ethnic armed groups in northern Shan state sent the junta reeling.

The Arakan Army (AA), Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Ta'ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) seized roads to the country's biggest trading partner China and captured dozens of military outposts.

Troops surrendered in their thousands and military units fled into India and China, prompting rare public criticism of the junta leadership by its supporters.

A China-brokered peace deal has since paused the fighting in the north, but the alliance has largely kept its recent gains and clashes continue elsewhere.

The setbacks have also galvanised pro-democracy groups to renew their attacks on the military elsewhere in the country.

Independent Myanmar analyst David Mathieson said the move was "a totally expected extension for a crumbling regime."

More than 4,400 people have been killed in the military's crackdown on dissent and over 25,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group.

The junta has said that "terrorists" opposing its rule have killed more than 6,000 civilians.

More than two million people have been displaced by violence since the putsch, according to the United Nations.


AFP


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