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Myanmar’s military junta extended the state of emergency Tuesday, a move that will further delay elections that the army previously promised when it seized power from an elected government more than two years ago, the Associated Press reported.
The National Defense and Security Council (NDSC) announced that the state of emergency will be extended for another six months because the army needs more time to prepare for the vote.
The junta had initially vowed to hold elections this month, but the announcement underscores an admission that the military does not have enough control of the country to stage a vote, amid widespread opposition and armed resistance.
Myanmar has been gripped by crises since February 2021, when the army arrested the elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and officials from her government – a coup that reversed years of progress toward democracy after five decades of military rule in the Southeast Asian nation.
The military said it seized power because of electoral fraud during the November 2020 polls that saw Suu Kyi’s party secure a landslide victory. Independent election observers, however, said they did not find any major irregularities.
Following the takeover, mass peaceful demonstrations took place against the military’s rule, to which the junta responded by launching a bloody crackdown that killed more than 3,800 people.
The situation triggered armed resistance across the country that the United Nations has described as a civil war.
The election delay is not new: Myanmar’s military-enacted constitution allows the army to rule under a state of emergency for one year, with two possible six-month extensions if new polls are not prepared – all of which expired on Jan. 31 this year.
But the NDSC – a military-controlled government body – extended the emergency rule in February. Tuesday’s extension marks the fourth one.
It’s unclear when the next elections will take place, but junta critics and opposition politicians warned that the upcoming vote will be neither free nor fair under the military-controlled government.