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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/3/21

Myanmar's military seizes control of country over election fraud

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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Myanmar's military Monday seized control of the country due to the government's failure to act on the alleged massive voter fraud in last November's election - eerily similar to the claims of the Donald Trump campaign in the United States.

Tellingly, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper the Global Times quoted Tuesday some experts as saying that former US president Donald Trump, who refused to admit his election defeat and reportedly incited the Capitol riots, might be the Myanmar military's inspiration.

A military statement cited a section of the constitution that allows the military to take control in times of national emergency. It said the reason for takeover was in part due to the government's failure to act on the military's claims of voter fraud in last November's election and its failure to postpone the election because of the coronavirus crisis.

The military statement said Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing would be in charge of the country, while Vice-President Myint Swe, a retired army general, would be elevated to acting president.

In a later announcement, the military said an election would be held in a year and the military would hand power over to the winner.

Myanmar's military last week warned that it could grab power after alleging irregularities in the November 8 election that handed the National League for Democracy party (NLD) a landslide victory and gave Aung San Suu Kyi a second five-year term in office. The NLD captured 396 out of 476 seats in the combined lower and upper houses of Parliament in November's polls.

Biden threatens U.S. sanctions

US President Joe Biden has threatened to impose sanctions on Myanmar after the country's military seized power.

President Biden described the military take over as a "direct assault on the country's transition to democracy" and warned Myanmar's military that his administration was preparing to take action to respond to their illegal seizure of power.

"The US removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy," Joe Biden said in a statement, using the former name of Myanmar.

In contrast, the Chinese foreign affairs spokesperson merely noted the military take over. "We have noted what has happened in Myanmar and are in the process of further understanding the situation," the foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

"China is a friendly neighbor of Myanmar. We hope that all sides in Myanmar can appropriately handle their differences under the constitution and legal framework and safeguard political and social stability." China's state-run Xinhua news agency described the coup as a "major cabinet reshuffle."

Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines largely followed China on Monday by saying the issue was internal to Myanmar.

Bangladesh called for peace and stability in Myanmar and said it still hoped its neighbor would make genuine efforts to move forward the stalled process of voluntary repatriation of Rohingya refugees. "We have been persistent in developing mutually beneficial relations with Myanmar and have been working with Myanmar for the voluntary, safe and sustained repatriation of the Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh," the ministry of foreign affairs said.

Daniel Russel, the top US diplomat for East Asia under Barack Obama, who fostered close ties with Aung San Suu Kyi, was quoted by the Guardian as saying that another military takeover in Myanmar would be a severe blow to democracy in the region. "This is a huge setback - not only for democracy in Myanmar, but for US interests. It's yet another reminder that the extended absence of credible and steady US engagement in the region has emboldened anti-democratic forces."

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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