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Myanmar junta hints may extend state of emergency, delay polls

Published : 01 Feb 2023 12:51 AM | Updated : 01 Feb 2023 05:26 PM
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Myanmar's junta on Tuesday said the country had "not returned to normalcy" almost two years after its coup, casting doubt over plans for elections and ending a state of emergency.

The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since the military toppled  democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government, alleging massive  fraud during elections her party won in 2020.

A junta-imposed state of emergency is due to expire at the end of January,  after which the constitution states that authorities must set in motion plans  to hold fresh elections.

The military was widely expected to announce Wednesday that it would prepare  for the polls.

But a junta-stacked National Defence and Security Council met Tuesday to  discuss the state of the nation and concluded it "has not returned to  normalcy yet", the military's information team said in a statement.

Junta opponents, including anti-coup "People's Defence Forces" (PDF) and a  shadow government dominated by lawmakers from Suu Kyi's party, had tried to  seize "state power by means of unrest and violence" the statement added.

Those "who want utter devastation of the state are continuing their  activities", it said.

The "necessary announcement will be released" on Wednesday, it added, without  giving details.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing has previously said elections could only be held  when the country was "peaceful and stable".

Under the military-authored 2008 constitution, the president in coordination  with the Defence and Security Council can extend a state of emergency for six  months upon a request from the head of the military.

Former civilian president and close Suu Kyi ally Win Myint has been detained  since the coup and jailed on a clutch of charges by a closed junta court.

Acting President U MyintSwe attended the Tuesday meeting, the military said.

 "We still do not know the decision of the meeting," a military source told 

AFP, requesting anonymity.

"We have been told to be on standby for possible attacks by PDF in coming 

days in the regions. We have no black-and-white instruction.

"Whether the state of emergency situation is continued or not, we will be in 

the military barracks. We also want the situation to return to normalcy."

Last week the junta gave existing and aspiring political parties two months 

to re-register under a strict new electoral law, in a sign it was planning 

fresh polls for this year.

But with armed resistance raging across swathes of the country, analysts say 

people in many areas will be unlikely to vote -- and run the risk of 

reprisals if they do.

A United Nations special envoy said Tuesday that elections would "fuel 

greater violence, prolong the conflict and make the return to democracy and 

stability more difficult".

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