In India, people are now-a-days busy in the current events of Budget 2021, Farmers’ Protest and many other economic developments. We got so much indulged in our own events that we are paying less attention to rest of the world. But, even then, we cannot ignore the current scenario of Myanmar, one of our close neighbors. Also known as Burma, the country that shares its boundary with our four states has been taken over by the Commander-in-Chief of Myanmar. And generally, what we say is that a Military Coup has taken place in Myanmar. The issue lost its limelight in India because all this happened on February 1, the day on which the Union Budget 2021 of India was presented by the Government.
WHAT IS MILITARY COUP?
‘Coup’ means overthrow or takeover. A Coup is the overthrow of a Government by non-democratic means by a political faction, the military or a dictator. The ‘military Coup’ is an illegal, unconstitutional removal of a government and seizure of its powers by the military.
MILITARY COUP IN MYANMAR
Myanmar is a developing country with a population of 5.4 crores. Despite being a large country, it is one of the poorest countries in the world having less industrial development, high rate of unemployment, etc. It is HDI Ranking is only at 147.
On 1 February, 2021, Myanmar’s new National Parliament was to convene and hold its position to start the new term of the parliament. But before it would have happened, the military of Myanmar took the control over the country and declared an emergency in the country for a year. Hence, the Military Coup took place in Myanmar. The reason that was given by the Military for such a huge step was that they found ‘irregularities’ in the general elections of 2020 and they claimed that the elections were not conducted in a fair manner.
In November 2020, General Elections were conducted in Myanmar in which the ‘National League for Democracy’ (NLD) party gained victory. But, rightly after November 8, the Military of Myanmar started claiming irregularities in the elections stating that there was a veracity of around 9 million votes in the elections. A lot of Global agencies, NGOs, etc. supervised and certified that the elections were conducted in a fair and clear manner but the military refused to accept the results and declared it invalid.
Some days before the beginning of the new term of parliament, the military set the deadline of 1 February for the United Election Commission of Myanmar demanding the proof of fair elections. But in absence of any such proof, the military took the control over Myanmar.
• Military’s chief-general ‘Min Aung Hlaing’ took control over Myanmar.
• An emergency of one year is declared in the country.
• Acting president removed and a General is appointed on his position.
• Many of the leaders including Win Myint (President of Myanmar) and Aung Saan Sui Kyi (State Councilor of Myanmar) are detained.
• Mobile Internet data connection disrupted in major cities.
• State Broadcast MRTV is claiming technical issues and is off-air.
• Banks are temporarily closed due to which there are huge lanes in front of ATMs.
Myanmar is similar to Pakistan in terms of its political history since 2nd world war. From 1948 to 1962, a democratically elected government ruled in Myanmar. But in 1962, the military took over the control and set up the Junta. The military ruled for around 50 years and then decided to move forward with democracy and in that respect, it drafted a constitution for the country in 2008. It stated that as the military had brought stability in the country, so now they wanted to ⁹step ahead by providing the ‘Roadmap to Democracy’. But the real reason was the force and increasing pressure from west and dire economic stress due to the sanctions and all.
Then, the first fair election took place in 2011 when the party NLD (National league for democracy) leaded by Aung San Sui Kyi gained victory. In 2015 elections, NLD party again won with even a larger majority.
Even after stepping towards the democracy, Myanmar still was not able to get rid of the Army’s influence in politics. This is because of the provision that was included by the military in 2008 constitution which guaranteed 25% of all seats in national parliament to the military, That’s why the real power in Myanmar is vested with Army which is much more formal and constitutional than Pakistan.
PARLIAMENTARY STRUCTURE IN MYANMAR
• Two houses in Parliament.
• Upper house is the ‘House of Nationalities’. Total no. of seats in it is 224, out of which 56 are for the military.
• Lower House is the ‘House of Representatives’. Total no. of seats is 440, out of which 110 are for the military members.
In 2020 elections, NLD won with a total seats of 396 (138 in upper house and 258 in lower house).
Myanmar claims itself to be a democracy, but it does not seem so. It claims that they stepped into democracy after adopting the constitution in 2008 and conducting the first general elections in 2011. It claims that they have much developed now in terms of democracy. But the rest of the world doesn’t consider Myanmar to be a democracy. In fact, Economic Intelligence Unit rated Myanmar as ‘Authoritarian Regime’ in 2019. And there will be no reason to doubt it. The military said that there was irregularities in the general election, and for the sake of democracy, we are declaring the results as invalid. And when the military took over the charge, declared the emergency, detained the leaders and many more, then where was the democracy. One of the reasons that limits the path of Myanmar to democracy is the provision of 25% seats in National Parliament for the military that provides it a control over the country’s politics.
Aung Saan Sui Kyi claimed before elections that when she came in power, she would amend the constitution and promised to reduce the Militarian role in polities. She claimed that if she won 2021 elections, then would reduce the percentage of military members from 25% to 15%. Further, she claimed to reduce it to 10% in 2025 and 5% in 2030 and promised that in the same way, she would make the military out of the politics. So, it may be possible that the fear of loss of power in politics by military is one of the reasons behind this military coup in Myanmar. Whatever be the reason, the important thing is that the current situations will hinder the path of the Myanmar not only to the democracy, but also to the development and social welfare.