No election until 2023, junta says on six-month coup anniversary

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing addresses the nation Sunday. Image: Tatmadaw News
Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing addresses the nation Sunday. Image: Tatmadaw News

The head of Myanmar’s military announced yesterday that he has reorganized its ruling junta into a caretaker government and appointed himself prime minister but won’t organize an election until 2023.

Six months after seizing power and jailing Myanmar’s elected civilian leaders, Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing pledged in a speech to the nation Sunday to hold an election within two years, a vow roundly rejected by those taking to the streets in the face of violence to demand the military cede power.

Immediately after Min Aung Hlaing’s address, people across the country came out to protest yet again under the slogan “Kick out the military guard dogs,” referring to the so-called caretaker administration.

One popular political cartoon published in response to the announcement simply showed a dog with Min Aung Hlaing’s face being kicked down a set of stairs.

The artist, La Gon Eain, described the junta as a stray dog guarding a house uninvited and unwanted by its owner.

Another cartoon published by Tachileik News shows a man in a military uniform on all fours, beseeching a pet dog to trade places.

Human Rights Watch marked the six-month coup-versary by calling for escalated sanctions in response to “the continuing crimes against humanity in Myanmar.”

“Actions should include targeted sanctions on individuals, a global arms embargo, and financial restrictions that would reduce the junta’s revenues from extractive industries,” it said in a report published Saturday.

Min Aung Hlaing said it would take two years to implement the military’s five goals, which include holding an election by August 2023. It came days after his appointed electioneers officially tossed out landslide November victory  by Aung San Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy.

Aung Myo Min, human rights minister for the government in exile, said that rebranding itself as a caretaker government would not protect the junta from prosecution for human rights abuses and war crimes.

“Even if the title was changed, the responsibility remains with them. All the crimes committed by the military will be a haunting nightmare for them to stand on their own feet internationally and to be legitimized,” Aung Myo Min wrote online.

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