Myanmar’s Military Ruler Declares Himself Prime Minister

Myanmar’s military ruler Min Aung Hlaing took the role of Prime Minister on August 1, six months after seizing the power from a civilian government, and promised to hold elections in 2023.

His military government was named the “caretaker government” that will rule the country in a state of emergency. During his speech on Sunday, he said, “We have to make preparations. I pledge to hold the multiparty general election without fail.” He also pledged that his government would accomplish the provisions of emergency and restore democracy by August 2023.

The military government seized the power six months earlier from Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling party claiming those elections to be fraudulent. Therefore, it justified the takeover in accordance with the country’s constitution. These fraud allegations were, however, dismissed by the Myanmar electoral commission.

The military takeover in February was accompanied by large-scale protests which resulted in a dangerous crackdown against free voices in the country. The military retorted to violence ranging from physical attacks to even firing live ammunition into the crowds. According to the record maintained by the independent Assistance Association of Political Prisoners around 939 people have been killed and 6990 military opponents were arrested by the authorities in these 6 months. The government claimed the number of protests killed in the violence is far lower than the number of armed forces who died in the violent protests.

The attempts of negotiation and dialogue between the military government and opponents fostered by The Association of Southeast Nations stalled in April after a summit in Jakarta to appoint a special envoy for Myanmar.

At the same time, Myanmar is struggling is the worst COVID-19 outbreak that has crippled the public system of the country. There are widespread allegations on the military government that it is channeling the oxygen supplies only to government supporters and military-run hospitals. Medical workers have also been targeted by the authorities after they headed a civil disobedience movement against the rule of the military government.

The government justified its actions by accusing the opponents of using “COVID-19 as a tool of bioterrorism” and claimed that the efforts were necessary to curb fake news and disinformation emanating in the country through social media networks.

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