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Myanmar junta hints may extend state of emergency, delay polls 


By AFP and published by CNA

Yangon – Myanmar’s junta on Tuesday (Jan. 31) said the country had “not returned to normalcy” almost two years after its coup, casting doubt over plans for elections and ending a state of emergency.

The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since the military toppled democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government, alleging massive fraud during elections her party won in 2020.

A junta-imposed state of emergency is due to expire at the end of January, after which the constitution states that authorities must set in motion plans to hold fresh elections.

The military was widely expected to announce today (Feb. 1) that it would prepare for the polls.

But a junta-stacked National Defence and Security Council met on Tuesday to discuss the state of the nation and concluded it “has not returned to normalcy yet”, the military’s information team said in a statement.

Junta opponents, including anti-coup “People’s Defence Forces” (PDF) and a shadow government dominated by lawmakers from Suu Kyi’s party, had tried to seize “state power by means of unrest and violence” , the statement added.

Those “who want utter devastation of the state are continuing their activities”, it said.

The “necessary announcement will be released” on Wednesday,” it added, without giving details.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has previously said elections could only be held when the country was “peaceful and stable”.

Under the military-authored 2008 constitution, the president in coordination with the Defence and Security Council can extend a state of emergency for six months upon a request from the head of the military.

Former civilian president and close Suu Kyi ally Win Myint has been detained since the coup and jailed on a clutch of charges by a closed junta court.

Acting President U Myint Swe attended the Tuesday meeting, the military said.

“We still do not know the decision of the meeting,” a military source told AFP, requesting anonymity.

“We have been told to be on standby for possible attacks by PDF in coming days in the regions. We have no black-and-white instruction.

“Whether the state of emergency continues or not, we will be in the military barracks. We also want the situation to return to normalcy.”

Last week the junta gave existing and aspiring political parties two months to re-register under a strict new electoral law, in a sign it was planning fresh polls for this year.

But with armed resistance raging across swathes of the country, analysts say people in many areas will be unlikely to vote – and run the risk of reprisals if they do.

A United Nations special envoy said on Tuesday that elections would “fuel greater violence, prolong the conflict and make the return to democracy and stability more difficult”.


Top: More than 2,800 people have been killed since the Myanmar coup, according to the United Nations, and thousands more arrested as the junta cracks down on dissent. File photo: AFP/STR and published by CNA

Insert: Myanmar marks two years on Feb. 1 since the military seized power. Photo: AFP/STR and published by CNA

Front Page: Myanmar’s junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who ousted the elected government in a coup, presides over an army parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on March 27, 2021. File photo: Reuters/Stringer and published by CNA

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