On Monday morning, February 1, the leadership of the Tatmadaw ( Burmese military) seized power in Myanmar, putting the country under military rule again.
On the ground of sections 417 and 418 of the Constitution (2008), Interims President Myint Swe, so far Commander of the powerful Yangon troops, transferred the legislative, executive and judicative power to Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing. As a result, all legislative function of the parliament will be suspended.
On the ground of section 410, a state of emergency “up to one year” for the whole Myanmar was declared.
Mobile communication has been limited to certain regions, and totally shut down in the states. The roads to the parliament were blocked, the banks closed, due to poor internet connections. Payments could only be made in cash. People made panic buyings, shops operated under shortened business-hours.
In the hours before the announcement of the military’s power seizure through the military-owned Myawaddy-TV, key figures of the Myanmar political life were detained: among others, senior leaders of the National League of Democracy (NLD) State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, and all chief-ministers of the states and regions affiliated to the NLD. In Nay Pyi Taw, soldiers arrived at compounds, where NLD lawmakers live, detaining them too.
Most Western countries reacted to the power grab similarly: disapprovingly, up-holding Myanmar’s deeply desired democratic transformation. Canada noted – rather cynically – that the military just would make use of its self-written Constitution. The ASEAN member-states reacted individually.
Now, the people of Myanmar must be the center of attention. Last year it was them who went to the polls under Covid-19 conditions, making use of their voting right in Myanmar’s second free election in decades. They elected the NLD-representatives into the parliaments across the country, refusing the pro-military parties their votes, especially the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The will of the people became as crystalclear, as did the flaws and weaknesses of the country’s electoral system.
The military today announced new elections.