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Myanmar junta extends state of emergency

#Myanmar #junta #extends #state #emergency

Myanmar’s military rule has extended the state of emergency by six months, state media said on Monday, with the junta chief saying elections could only take place if the conflict-torn country was “stable and peaceful”.

Min Aung Hlaing, who led last year’s coup, called on the military government to “allow him to serve another 6 months,” according to a report in Global New Light of Myanmar.

Members of the junta’s National Defense and Security Council “unanimously supported the proposal,” it said.

After the junta toppled Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in February last year, it declared a state of emergency and plunged the country into turmoil.

It has previously said elections would be held and the state of emergency lifted by August 2023 – extending the original one-year deadline it announced days after the coup.

The army has justified its seizure of power with allegations of massive fraud in the 2020 election, in which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) blasted a military-backed party.

Last year it canceled poll results and said it had uncovered more than 11 million cases of voter fraud.

International observers said the vote was largely free and fair.

Suu Kyi has been imprisoned since the coup and faces a multitude of charges that could see her imprisoned for more than 150 years.

In a speech broadcast on Monday, Min Aung Hlaing gave no date for new elections but said they could only take place if the country was “peaceful and stable”.

He also said “reform” of the country’s electoral system was needed, including combining the first-past-the-post system – under which Suu Kyi’s NLD won a resounding majority – with proportional representation.

The influence of “powerful parties” had previously stifled other political voices in the country, he said.

The junta chief also invited the leaders of a number of established ethnic rebel groups in the country to a second round of face-to-face meetings.

Myanmar has about 20 ethnic rebel armies – many controlling parts of remote border areas and fighting each other and the military for decades.

Some have condemned the coup, offering shelter and weapons training to the “People’s Defense Forces” (PDFs) that have sprung up since the coup, which analysts say have surprised the military with their effectiveness.

Several ethnic rebel groups participated in a first round of “peace talks” with the junta in May, although groups fighting alongside anti-junta rebels stayed away.

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