Myanmar’s governing junta has formally postponed an election scheduled for August this year following its 2021 coup, according to state television late Monday. In a meeting with the army-backed National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) on Monday, Junta head General Min Aung Hlaing prolonged the state of emergency for another six months.
After overthrowing the democratic government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the military promised to hold elections by August 2023, but it postponed the ballot due to continued unrest.
“While holding an election, necessary security arrangements are still required in order to have an election that is free and fair and also to be able to vote without fear,” the junta said on state TV.
Myanmar has been in upheaval since the coup, with a resistance movement fighting the military on many fronts following a deadly crackdown on opponents that attracted international criticism and resulted in the re-imposition of Western sanctions.
The military seized control after Suu Kyi’s party won the general election in November 2020. Election monitors found no indication of widespread fraud.
The destabilisation of Suu Kyi’s elected government derailed a decade of reform, international engagement, and economic prosperity, leaving a trail of upended lives in its aftermath.
The US State Department responded to the junta’s move by saying that prolonging the state of emergency will plunge the country “deeper into violence and instability.”
“The regime’s widespread brutality and disregard for the people of Burma’s democratic aspirations continue to prolong the crisis,” said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller.
Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi partially pardoned
Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi has been pardoned in five criminal cases, though she remains charged in 14 others, according to official media on Tuesday. The statement was part of a larger amnesty for over 7,000 convicts in honour of Buddhist Lent.
“Chairman of the State Administration Council pardons Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who was sentenced by the relevant courts,” said the broadcast.
Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained since her ouster in a military coup in 2021, has been sentenced to 33 years in prison on a variety of offences, including embezzlement, illegal possession of walkie talkies, and violating coronavirus prohibitions.
According to the programme, she has been pardoned in five cases but still faces 14 more.
“She couldn’t be entirely liberated, even though some of her sentences had been commuted. She still has 14 instances to deal with. “Only five cases out of 19 were pardoned,” according to a legal source.
Aung San Suu Kyi has only been seen once since her arrest on February 1, 2021, in grainy state media images from a sparse courtroom in the military-built capital Naypyidaw.
According to the United Nations, the coup triggered a conflict that has displaced over one million people in Southeast Asia.
According to a member of her political party, Aung San Suu Kyi was transferred from prison to a government facility last week.
Myanmar routinely gives amnesty to thousands of convicts to commemorate holidays or significant Buddhist occasions.