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Myanmar Coup: What is happening and Why?

Myanmar military declared a one-year state of emergency in the country after detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the ruling National League for Democracy's (NLD) party. Declaration was broadcasted on the official channel of military asserting that current regime is not operating on the basis of the constitution of the country. The military has also alleged that the general elections held in November 2020 were full of “irregularities” and that its results are not valid, questioning the veracity of some 9 million votes cast in the election.

History of Military Rule:

Myanmar (then Burma) became an independent nation in 1948 with U Nu heading the government and the entry of the military into state politics firstly recognised in 1958 where the Chief of Staff General Ne Win was asked to serve as the interim prime minister due to split of a national political party. Democracy was first suspended in the year 1962, marking the beginning of the four decades-long direct military rule where Military leader Ne Win ruled the country for the coming years.

In the year 1991, the military government called for elections in which Ms Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory but the government was never formed due to military intervention. Ms Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest at her home in capital Rangoon, as a repercussion of it, many west countries negate the whole incident and released their official statement regarding various embargoes and sanctions. For supporting and fighting for democracy in her own country, she won the Nobel Peace Prize one year later in 1991.

The Military’s Constitution

In the year 2008, military drafted the Constitution, and put it to a questionable referendum in April that year. The Constitution was the military’s “roadmap to democracy”, which it had been forced to adopt under increasing pressure from the west, and its own realisation that opening up Myanmar to the outside world was now no longer an option but a dire economic necessity. But the military made sure to safeguard in the Constitution its own role and supremacy in national affairs. Under its one of the provision, the military reserves for itself 25 per cent of seats in both Houses of Parliament, to which it appoints serving military officials.

What led to this current military coup?

Myanmar’s first openly held general elections took place in November 2015 where Ms Suu Kyi’s NLD won by a landslide victory, securing a majority in both houses. The party formed the government for the first time; however, Ms Suu Kyi was constitutionally barred from becoming the prime minister because her husband and both sons were British.

Again in the year 2020, Ms Suu Kyi’s NLD was close to winning the elections but the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party demanded re-election citing irregularities like poor-quality ballot boxes and envelopes and government bribes at voting booths.

On 26th January, the military had demanded that the United Elections Commission (UEC) of Myanmar to prove at a special session before the new parliament that the elections were free and fair. The NLD rejected the demand and Ms Suu Kyi announced that an amendment to the constitution will be presented before the parliament to reduce the representation of the military in both houses.

On February 1st, a military speaker warned that the armed forces might “take action” if their assertions of fraud in elections weren’t taken seriously and also cited a provision in the Constitution to launching a coup if the nation’s Sovereignty was threatened and declare a national emergency.

Myanmar’s coup for India

Myanmar is a critical neighbour for India, especially as a land conduit to link north-east India to the rest of the Southeast Asian region. It has invested in major development assistance projects, like the Kaladan multimodal connectivity project that will connect from India’s Mizoram state to Sittwe port in Rakhine province in Myanmar. There are also security imperatives for India’s cooperation with Myanmar, with whom it shares a long, mountainous border.

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