February 1 was supposed to be the opening day of the new federal parliament after the elections in Myanmar. As a result, in the early morning of the same day, the Myanmar military took over state power and detained state senior government officials such as Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Wenmin, administrators of various provinces and other dignitaries, which shocked international public opinion.So, why did the Myanmar military suddenly take over state power? How should the situation in Myanmar evolve? How is the response of the international community?
Why did the military suddenly take action?
In the past few days, the ups and downs of Myanmar’s political situation have been relaxed and tightened, and finally major changes have occurred, which has become the focus of international public opinion.
The speculation and rumors of Myanmar public opinion unfortunately “conformed”. On January 27, Min Aung-lai, the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar National Defense Forces, said in a video speech with officers: “The National Defense Forces must act in accordance with the 2008 national constitution, which is above everything and is the mother law of all laws. If it does not abide by the constitution, the constitution will be repealed.”
This statement is very rare, so it has led to speculation from all walks of life in Myanmar that soldiers will launch a “coup”, because soldiers have previously expressed their positions to defend the constitution, because the constitution was once formulated by the military, and many provisions safeguard the interests of soldiers.
Subsequently, the situation eased for a while, with a sense of peak and turning. On January 30, the Myanmar military announced again that “the military will act according to the 2008 Constitution!” This makes people feel that the “military coup” is purely a media “misconversion”. Everyone may be too nervous or think too much. They are relieved to think that it’s okay and can be regarded as a safe weekend.
However, on the morning of February 1, on the eve of preparing for a new federal parliament after the election, Acting President Min Rui (the former vice president of the NLD government and retired officer) declared a state of emergency for one year and transferred legislative, executive and judicial power to Min Aunglai, which meant that soldiers once again took over the country. The military stressed that this is not a coup, but a constitutional takeover of state power.
Some international media call this a “coup”. The parties’ definition of Myanmar’s military operations is not very uniform. However, this is also the third time that Burmese soldiers have taken state power in Myanmar since they briefly led the caretaker government from October 1958 to February 1960, the 1962 military coup, and the 1988 military coup.
This also means that the five-year term of the NLD government elected in the November 2015 general election failed to “end well” and was still two months away from expiring. The results of the November 2020 general election were also basically invalidated, and a new parliament could not be elected on schedule, so that a new elected government and government leader could not be elected by the new parliament. In the coming year, military leaders rather than elected civilian leaders will lead Myanmar.
Why did the military take a tough move at this time? The direct trigger and trigger is also as the military said publicly: “There was a mistake in the ballot in last year’s general election, but the Federal Election Commission did not deal with it seriously; although national sovereignty comes from the people, this election is inconsistent with democracy; the Federal Election Commission’s behavior is to forcibly seize state power and harm the National League.
Conclusion, undermine national sovereignty, affect the rule of law in the country, undermine national stability, and hinder the democratic process.
The military’s statement is related to the political game after last November’s election. After the election, the Federal Election Commission announced that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD won a complete victory. Later, the military and the pro-military Gong Fa Party repeatedly said that there were frauds in the election, the number of voters was inaccurate, and there were problems with the votes, and called for the postponement of the convening of the new parliament and that an investigation into the fraud in the election.
However, the NLD insisted on convening a new parliament, and the Federal Election Commission has repeatedly said that the election results were basically problemless and legal, and there was no large-scale investigation into electoral fraud proposed by the military. It has repeatedly said that the Federal Election Commission is an independent body and cannot be interfered or pressured by certain organizations. To change the determination of the election results.
In short, the frequent appeals made by the military and the Gongfa Party in the past two months, and even the many protests and demonstrations by Gongfa supporters have not worked.
Political parties such as NLD are ready to convene a new parliament on February 1, and the new parliamentarians have completed preparations such as nucleic acid testing. The military took over state power before the meeting, preventing the convening of a new parliament.
Does the military take over state power just because it is not satisfied with the election fraud and the reaction of the Federal Election Commission? In fact, the matter is not so simple, and there is a deeper reason behind it, which is also one of the consequences of the games between the military and the NLD over the past years.
From the beginning of the 20th century, Burmese rebelled against British colonial rule (and Japan during World War II), and to now, soldiers have played an important role in the political development of Myanmar for a long time. Their three direct or indirect leadership of the government for more than half a century, with strong political, economic and social Influence.
However, in Myanmar politics in recent years, with the continuous progress of Myanmar’s political transformation process, the political status of military personnel and Gongfa Party has continued to decline.
In the November 2015 and November 2020 general elections, the military’s opponent NLD won an overwhelming victory with strong public support, with NLD seats occupying more than half of the seats in the Federal Parliament. Gong Fa Party lost again and again. In the two general elections, it won few seats.
Coupled with the 25% of the seats occupied by unelected military parliamentarians, the total number of members in the whole military camp only accounts for about one-third of the total seats in the Federal Parliament, which does not constitute a strong check and balance on the governance of the NLD.
In the past five years, the NLD government has made it easier to pass the proposal or bill by virtue of its majority in Parliament, and it is difficult for the number of seats in the military camp to prevent NLD bills from passing. However, the bill proposed by the military camp is difficult to pass in Parliament because it is difficult to obtain the support of NLD members.
The situation where soldiers have dominated the government for a long time is no longer, and it is very difficult to return to power through elections now and in the future. If a soldier loses his ruling position, he loses a lot of political and economic interests, and his psychological loss and even frustration are also very strong.
This time, it called on the Electoral Commission to investigate electoral fraud, which was basically fruitless and became angry, so it took over state power.
Will Myanmar be more chaotic or stable?
At present, military personnel have temporarily gained a dominant position in Myanmar’s political landscape. After taking over state power, he said that it would restructure the Federal Election Commission to investigate general election fraud.
After the end of the one-year national emergency, Myanmar will resume general elections and state power will be transferred to the newly elected political parties. .
It can be seen that the words and deeds of the Myanmar military have both a tough side and a certain reconciliation posture. This is also a major feature of the military after taking over state power.
After the coups in 1962 and 1988, the soldiers did not immediately make it clear how long they would hold general elections for the people, but ruled for a long time.
So, where will Myanmar’s political situation go in the future? It is relatively easy for the Myanmar military to take over state power, but it will be in power for one year, which is full of challenges and difficulties.
There are unstable factors in the situation in Myanmar.
First, the open reason why the military took over state power was dissatisfied with the failure of the Federal Election Commission to seriously investigate electoral fraud. In the future, the military will reorganize the Federal Election Commission to investigate electoral fraud.
So, what factions will the new election committee members come from and whether they can be completely neutral? Can its follow-up investigation procedures and results convince all parties inside and outside Myanmar and trigger protests from other factions? This will directly concern the legitimacy of the reason why the Burmese military takes over power.
Second, at noon on February 1, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the Myanmar Democratic League, issued a statement calling on the people of Myanmar to refuse to accept the military to take over state power and urging the people to protest.
The reality is that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD have a high support rate among the people in Myanmar, which can be seen from the overwhelming victory of NLD in both the 2015 and 2020, while the actual public support rate of the military and Gongfa Party is not high.
Therefore, if Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and NLD supporters really often take to the streets to protest against the military’s rule, there may be some frictions and even conflicts with the military, or with supporters of the military, causing social instability.
Third, although the military said it would deal with the coronavirus epidemic as soon as possible and develop Myanmar’s economy, it is easy to say than difficult to do.
Because the epidemic situation in Myanmar is serious, there are about 140,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, hundreds of new confirmed cases every day. Myanmar’s medical and health conditions are poor.
Before that, the NLD government did not even have enough funds to import vaccines, and it still needed to openly raise donations from the private sector.
The epidemic is rampant, the health of the people is seriously threatened, the economy has been hit hard, and the social operation is disorderly.
Moreover, the suspension of Myanmar’s stock market after the military takes over state power may also undermine investor confidence at home and abroad. For the Myanmar military, how to control the epidemic as soon as possible in the future and make Myanmar’s economic and social functioning return to normal as soon as possible is an urgent and severe problem.
Fourth, the United States and other Western governments and public opinion have publicly criticized and pressured the Myanmar military, threatening to take more pressure and sanctions.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Myanmar’s military for detaining Myanmar leaders, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Myanmar’s military will face greater pressure from the West in the coming year.
It can be seen that the Myanmar military will face a complex internal and external situation in the coming year, and the military also promises to hold general elections one year later. The degree of internal and external pressure and workload it faces can be imagined.
This depends not only on the military’s governance ability, but also on whether the Myanmar government and opposition parties continue to interact viciously in the future or turn into benign interaction.