Sunday , May 16 2021
Home / Project Syndicate / After Myanmar’s Coup

After Myanmar’s Coup

Summary:
Although Myanmar’s democracy was clearly a work in progress, that progress has now come to a jarring halt with the February 1 military coup. The country’s neighbors are treading warily in its aftermath, and there may be some curious reversals of earlier stances. NEW DELHI – Until recently, the last time Myanmar’s military supervised a general election whose outcome it didn’t like was back in 1990. On that occasion, a military junta refused to recognize the results, arrested the democratically elected leaders of Aung San Suu Kyi’s overwhelmingly victorious National League for Democracy (NLD), and continued to rule the country via the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). Multilateral

Topics:
Shashi Tharoor considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

Tyler Cowen writes Lies vs. silence?

Global Economic Intersection Analysis Blog Feed writes A Brief History Of The Buy-to-Build Indicator

Tyler Cowen writes Saturday assorted links

Greg Mankiw writes Testing the Mill Hypothesis

Although Myanmar’s democracy was clearly a work in progress, that progress has now come to a jarring halt with the February 1 military coup. The country’s neighbors are treading warily in its aftermath, and there may be some curious reversals of earlier stances.

NEW DELHI – Until recently, the last time Myanmar’s military supervised a general election whose outcome it didn’t like was back in 1990. On that occasion, a military junta refused to recognize the results, arrested the democratically elected leaders of Aung San Suu Kyi’s overwhelmingly victorious National League for Democracy (NLD), and continued to rule the country via the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC).

The same thing happened again on February 1, when Suu Kyi, now the country’s de facto leader, and other politicians, including NLD ministers, were arrested in a pre-dawn swoop. The military took charge, declared a one-year state of emergency, and promptly transferred power to the army’s commander-in-chief, General Min Aung Hlaing. Vice President Myint Swe, a former general, was named president, but yielded power to Hlaing.

Once again, Myanmar’s men in uniform, who ruled the country from 1962 to 2011 and had co-existed with civilian leaders in a slowly unfolding political transition over the last decade, have made clear their distaste for democracy. Last November’s general election resulted in another landslide victory for Suu Kyi’s NLD, which won 396 of 476 contested parliamentary seats and limited the army’s proxy political front, the Union Solidarity and Development Party, to just 33.

Although the humiliated military promptly alleged voter fraud, the election result did not fundamentally threaten its power. Myanmar’s pre-2011 constitution guarantees the army one-quarter of the seats in parliament, grants it control over key ministries, and disqualifies people with foreign spouses or children from becoming president, which prevented Suu Kyi from assuming the office.

Under these conditions, a modus vivendi of sorts had emerged: the previous elections in 2015 brought Suu Kyi and her party – full of former political prisoners – to power in a de facto coalition with their former jailers. Myanmar’s democracy was thus clearly a work in progress. But that progress has now come to a jarring halt. In fact, the military staged its coup on the very day that the newly elected parliament was scheduled to convene.

Recent events in Myanmar are hardly unprecedented. Since the country gained independence in 1948, the military, now known as the Tatmadaw, has held power for far longer than civilian leaders have. Suu Kyi herself spent a total of 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and her release in November 2010, and was awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize as a celebrated resistance icon. After her release, she exercised authority under constitutional power-sharing arrangements that entrenched the military’s clout and even allowed the army to intercede in government decisions when...

Shashi Tharoor
MP for Thiruvananthapuram. Author of 17 books. Former Minister of State,Govt.of India. Former UnderSecretaryGeneral,UnitedNations. RTs do not imply endorsement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *