Commentary: Why a military coup cannot be the solution in Myanmar

NEW DELHI: The surprising detention of Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and a State of Emergency declaration on Monday (Feb 1) have despatched ripples by the worldwide neighborhood however comes as little shock to eager observers.

Since Myanmar’s most up-to-date common election held final November delivered a sturdy mandate to the National League for Democracy (NLD), tensions between the military and the NLD have intensified.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the fundamental opposition get together with shut hyperlinks to the military, which noticed a slide in votes, didn’t settle for the outcomes.

Worse, they accused the Union Election Commission (UEC) and the NLD of participating in electoral fraud, together with duplication of names utilizing the identical identification playing cards, voting with out identification playing cards, voters with false identification playing cards, and the difficulty of underage and overage voters. 

Making the scenario extra alarming was a transfer by the military, which dominated the nation with an iron-fist for nearly 5 a long time, intervening in help of the USDP.

During a press briefing on Friday (Jan 26), the military spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun made a veiled risk, warning the military would “take action” if irregularities weren’t fastened. “We do not say the Tatmadaw will take power; neither do we say it will not,” he had stated.

READ: Commentary: So much hope as Myanmar head to polls

The military is understandably coming beneath intense worldwide stress after a global inquiry into the Rohingya disaster launched their findings final week. 

Aung San Suu Kyi’s Financial Times commentary concerning this difficulty, printed on Jan 23, urged motion will be taken towards members of the “Defence Services” discovered responsible, who will be prosecuted by the military justice system.

READ: Commentary: Proving Myanmar had genocidal intent is not straightforward


But the military should reverse its actions. 

It’s exhausting to see the final 24 hours as the rest than the losers of an election trying repeatedly to overturn the outcomes and override the will of voters as their different choices fade. The prior theatrics do little to masks this narrative.

Myanmar Feb 1 (4)

Workers stand on the street subsequent to their building website that has been closed in Yangon on Feb 1, 2021, following studies Myanmar’s military has detained the nation’s de facto chief Aung San Suu Kyi and the nation’s president in an obvious coup. (Photo: AFP / STR)

The USDP stated it had referred to as for military intervention on the foundation that the UEC didn’t pay critical consideration to their complaints after submitting greater than 1,200 objections and complaints with the police and the election fee.

While the military responded with a affordable transfer to look into alleged circumstances, its sudden growth of investigations and subsequent declare of discovering 8.6 million irregularities simply final week took everybody by shock.

To the UEC’s credit score, its swift response, issued on Saturday, has been constant since such claims arose: It has discovered no main irregularities doubtlessly impacting the election outcomes. 

The UEC additionally took pains to emphasize how each native and worldwide impartial observers discovered the conduct of the election to be, by and huge free and truthful. 

READ: Commentary: Why Myanmar voted overwhelmingly for Aung San Suu Kyi again

The State of Emergency declaration comes additionally on the again of previous makes an attempt by the USDP to problem the election seeing little success.

The USDP and the military have additionally referred to as for Parliament, which was supposed to take a seat on Monday, to carry a particular session to debate what they name “mass fraud.” But Parliament rejected this on the grounds the UEC’s choices are last on election-related points.

The Myanmar Supreme Court is mulling the USDP’s request for a writ to summon the UEC over allegations of electoral misconduct however authorized observers recommend they’re unlikely to accede with out new, substantive proof.


The military’s counter-productive actions undermine establishments it had rigorously tended to and put in place and dangers repudiating the processes undergirding election and the political switch of energy.

FILE PHOTO: Myanmar's National League for Democracy party leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrives to c

Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) get together chief Aung San Suu Kyi arrives to forged her poll throughout the common election in Yangon November 8, 2015. (Photo: REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

The military does appear to have professional grounds to declaring such a State of Emergency beneath Article 40(c) of the structure if the President was consulted.

But by threatening to revoke the structure on Monday, the military revealed it’s prepared to overturn the political system when its pursuits are threatened.

The structure is the brainchild of the military, labored on since the 1990 common election, and was even put up for a referendum in 2008 towards factions urging in any other case.

It is that this identical structure that offers the Myanmar President the energy to nominate members of the UEC. Since the president is appointed by members of the nationwide parliament, the workplace usually represents the pursuits of the ruling get together, which enjoys a majority in the parliament. 

READ: Commentary: What does it matter if Canada strips Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary citizenship?

This identical system was employed throughout the 2010 election, which the USDP gained overwhelmingly. Then president Thein Sein, who was a former military common, had the energy to nominate individuals of his or his get together’s selecting. 

But over the previous 5 years, the NLD authorities managed each homes of the parliament, and nominated get together members to the presidency. With a landslide victory, the structure provides the NLD better sway on such issues and rightly so.


To be truthful, the UEC might have extra completely addressed allegations of fraud with detailed clarifications of incidents of fraud discovered and the way they got here to the conclusion that the election outcomes weren’t vastly impacted, aside from pointing to the massive gaps between the NLD and different events in the fashionable vote.

But the UEC was too caught up in the proxy battle between the military and the NLD. They didn’t grasp how rigorously they wanted to deal with grievances from shedding events with sturdy stakeholders, to keep away from such issues from spiraling uncontrolled and creating spoilers.

Myanmar Election

Myanmar’s chief Aung San Suu Kyi, left, receives poll papers in an envelope as she arrives to make an early voting for upcoming Nov 8 common election, at Union Election Commission workplace in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. (Photo: AP/Aung Shine Oo)

All shouldn’t be misplaced. There are face-saving methods for Myanmar to flee this disaster. Elected members of Parliament might contemplate taking on the military’s suggestion to determine a fee to analyze fraud claims, to unequivocally dispel doubts and act as a backstop for future complaints and allegations.

It is troublesome to see how such actions would be perceived as something wanting rewarding unhealthy behaviour by the worldwide neighborhood. Condemnations have come fast. International sanctions might observe.

For a nation lengthy used to a political system the place the military holds large sway, some say this nationwide spirit of pragmatism and political incrementalism could be wanted to steer Myanmar away from backsliding into yesteryears.

Perhaps, these developments show how highly effective the military is and the outsized position they are going to nonetheless play in the nation’s politics. They ought to wield that energy with accountability as a substitute of squandering away what goodwill has been constructed up since the democratic transition.

Few may settle for this coup. Most surveyed Myanmar voters have indicated in previous polls that they consider the NLD is the solely get together which may arise towards each inside threats from the military and exterior criticisms. 

The military shouldn’t underestimate the forces that would be unleashed by this transfer.

Dr Nehginpao Kipgen is a Political Scientist, Associate Professor and Executive Director at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Jindal School of International Affairs, O P Jindal Global University. He is the creator of three books on Myanmar, together with Democratization of Myanmar.

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