After taking power in February 2021, Myanmar’s generals announced new elections and unveiled updated election laws that ultimately led to the dissolution of Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD).
Nonetheless, the military has not said when elections will take place, as it faces persistent resistance to its power grab.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) “does not remain silent” whenever there is a serious violation of human rights, such as when civilian leaders or democracy activists are persecuted by the military junta.
In a statement, Wu added, “We always condemn the military junta for violating human rights” and urged the regime to bring back democracy. In response to the regime’s execution of political prisoners and dissolution of the NLD, Taiwan issued a strong condemnation.
Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s trip to Russia and the numerous sightings of Russian diplomats in Myanmar suggest that Russia has emerged as a key supporter and armourer of the Myanmar generals. Strong economic connections and visits from senior members of the Union Election Commission suggest that relations with Beijing are also improving.
The Myanmar Now website reports that politicians and persons perceived as sympathetic to the junta were in Japan earlier this month pushing Japanese MPs to support the polls.
However, the regime’s strength under army head Min Aung Hlaing has come into question after a significant reorganisation saw some prominent military officers replaced.
Removal of Myanmar Generals
The military overlords, who call themselves the State Administration Council, ousted two high-ranking officials last month: Lieutenant General Soe Htut and Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun, on suspicion of corruption.
This month has also seen the dismissal of Myanmar Investment Commission chairman Moe Myint Tun, as well as the removal of Foreign Exchange Supervisory Committee chairman Soe Htut, and the dissolution of the Central Committee on Ensuring the Smooth Flow of Trade and Goods chairman Soe Htut.
The most corrupt general is strangely charging his closest colleagues while going to great lengths to shield his own loved ones. Priscilla Clapp, head of mission and permanent charge d’affaires at the United States embassy in Burma from 1999 to 2002, remarked that the corruption claims are essentially a technique of getting rid of possible rivals.
The scale of the reorganisation as a whole, said Clapp, now a senior adviser at the US Institute of Peace, demonstrates the government is struggling to exert its power. She told Al Jazeera, “They don’t seem to be able to hold things together and the army is fraying at the edges.”
General Maung Maung Aye, the chief of general staff of the Myanmar military, and Lieutenant General Nyo Saw, the chair of the military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation, were both appointed to the SAC by the regime. Additionally, it promoted Khin Zaw to replace Bran Shaung as UEC’s top official.
General Mya Tun Oo, who was recently demoted and shifted from defence minister to transport minister, was given some important economic positions.
To consolidate power and streamline centralization across important committees, the military’s top brass reportedly used their most recent round of reshuffles. A Burmese analyst in Yangon who has access to the military but who asked not to be named said, “Corrective purges of this kind have been a constant feature in military-led administrations; the most parallel one was in the late ’90s targeting those affiliated with the commerce portfolio.”
The analyst told Al Jazeera that the possibility of attacks on election-related infrastructure is worrying, citing the assassination of a UEC deputy director general and anti-coup attacks on the General Administration Department, a civil service body across the country.
After the forced dissolution of political parties, the United Kingdom and Canada have expressed doubts about the legitimacy of the upcoming elections. For not complying with a strict new Political Party Registration Law, the military-run UEC dissolved the NLD and 39 other parties in March. Together, the parties won 89% of the seats up for election in November 2020.
A representative for Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office told Al Jazeera, “Elections held on the military regime’s terms, without the participation of a broad range of Myanmar stakeholders, would not contribute to the democratic aspirations of the Myanmar people.”
They run the risk of growing unrest and violence and damaging long-term peace and security if they do not engage in real, inclusive discourse.
Canadian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marilyne Guevremont described the dissolution of 40 parties as an effort to stifle opposition in Myanmar and weaken the country’s democratic institutions.
New periods of emergency rule
According to Al Jazeera’s Guevremont, “Regime plans to administer elections are a clear attempt to formalise the military’s illegal seizure of power” and “demonstrates the regime’s contempt for the unwavering democratic aspirations of the Myanmar people.”
Forcing an election is not the way to inclusive peace or democracy, and any election that is not free and fair does not reflect the will of the Myanmar people.
The regime has regularly declared new periods of emergency rule, claiming security concerns as an excuse for the fact that it does not have full jurisdiction over most of the country.
According to the monitoring group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, the military has killed over 4,000 civilians and imprisoned around 25,000 since the coup.
According to the United Nations, the crisis has caused the internal displacement of more than 1.6 million people.
Dr. Sasa, a cabinet minister at the National Unity Government, told Al Jazeera that the junta’s preparations for these sham elections aren’t aimed at advancing peace and democracy but are instead intended to perpetuate the crisis, maintain their grip on power, and continue their disregard for human rights.
The exiled politicians, mostly from the NLD, founded the NUG.
Since 1958, Myanmar has seen a pattern of military generals seizing power and then consolidating their rule through means such as rigged elections and specially drafted constitutions. He also stressed the importance of ending the ongoing trend of fraudulent elections.