Myanmar’s military leader Min Aung Hlaing declared himself prime minister on the 1st of August, and established a caretaker government performing governmental duties until a regular one is elected in 2023. He assumed the title after Myanmar’s military seized power in a sudden coup. Hlaing’s promise to provide elections and lift the country’s state of emergency is likely an attempt to lend the regime a cover of legitimacy. Anti-coup figures internationally and stationed in Myanmar dismissed the possibility of a future election taking place, since Myanmar has a history of military regimes defying international pressure to restore democracy and instead held onto power.
Thinzar Shunlei Yi, an opposition activist currently in hiding from the government, said “[T]he junta [civil deliberative or administrative council] leader is now trying to fool the international community and the UN basically to gain legitimacy in the UN General Assembly.” Min Aung Hlaing overthrew previous leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and declared a year-long state of emergency on 1 February. Before doing this, he claimed that widespread election fraud occurred during the November election saw the re-election of the National League for Democracy for a second term by a sizable margin. The regime officially annulled the election results last week. However, since the coup occurred, the new caretaker government’s military has struggled to exert authority against permeating resistance.
Mass protests and emerging armed groups have attacked government troops and pushed back against the new regime. To oppose Hlaing’s new government, MP’s from the National League for Democracy in hiding or in exile have formed a parallel “National Unity Government,” that seeks equal international recognition from the United Nations Assembly. Between the regime and coup, opponents over diplomatic recognition is expected at the UN, where the Myanmar ambassador broke his alliance and loyalty to the new government and backed the ousted one in an address to the General Assembly.
The General Assembly will decide on who the international committee will recognize as the justified and legal government next month. Myanmar is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, an organization that is attempting to end the violence and political stand-off between the two governments through a Five-Point Consensus plan. The five points were the cessation of violence, “constructive dialogue” between the various parties involved, the appointment of an ASEAN envoy to mediate in the dialogue process, the facilitation of humanitarian aid, and the final deployment of the envoy to Myanmar to meet with the contending parties. However, ASEAN leaders did not come to a consensus on a time frame for the implementation of the five-point plan, and progress on this plan has been slow. ASEAN member Vivian Balakrishnan stated, “[W]e recognize that implementation of the Five-Point Consensus has been slow and a little disappointing.”
The Myanmar military’s seizure of power has tipped the country toward a protracted crisis. According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, nearly 900 people have been killed by the security forces since the coup occurred. The crisis will likely lead to damaging implications for the lives and well-being of Myanmar’s citizens. The new military government should not be internationally recognized after studies into the functionality and efficiency of the caretaker government have outlined the government’s inability to respond to current, as well as future crises and resistance. The UN and ASEAN should collaborate and work together to assist Myanmar in either reinstating the old government, recognizing the National unity Government, or enforcing Hlaing’s caretaker government to commit to a fair election in the near future.