Myanmar: People observe 'silent protest' as military rulers extend emergency
Myanmar's Junta has extended the country's state of emergency by another six months. This could likely delay elections that the military had pledged to hold in August this year.
As citizen groups across Myanmar observed a "silent protest" on the anniversary of a 2021 military coup, country's military rulers extended the state of emergency by another six months. At the same time, protesters and exiled civilian leaders on Wednesday vowed to end what they called the army's "illegal power grab". In major cities across Myanmar, people observed a self-imposed lockdown. Hundreds of democracy supporters attended rallies in Thailand and the Philippines.
Junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing, in a meeting on Tuesday with the army-backed National Defence and Security Council (NDSC), also said multi-party elections must be held "as the people desire". General Min Aung Hlaing did not specify a timeline for the polls.
"Although according to the section 425 of the constitution, (a state of emergency) can only be granted two times, the current situation is under unusual circumstances and it is suitable to extend it one more time of six months," Acting President Myint Swe said at the meeting broadcast by MRTV.
The Southeast Asian country's top generals led a coup in February 2021 after five years of tense power-sharing under a quasi-civilian political system created by the military. The country's already intense ethnic tensions aggravated as military took over the power, leaving a trail of upended lives in its wake.
'Silent protest' against military rule
In the main commercial cities of Yangon and Mandalay, images on social media showed deserted streets in what coup opponents called a "silent protest" against the junta. Democracy activists had urged people not to go out between 10 AM and 3 PM.
There was also a rally in Yangon by about 100 supporters of the military, flanked by soldiers, photographs showed.
In Thailand, hundreds of anti-coup protesters held a rally outside Myanmar's embassy in Bangkok.
"This year is decisive for us to completely uproot the military regime," said Acchariya, a Buddhist monk attending the rally.
Others in the crowd chanted: "We are the people, we have the future" and "The revolution must prevail."
Activists also staged a protest in the Philippine capital, Manila.
Myanmar's military took power after complaining of fraud in a November 2020 general election won by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party. Election monitoring groups found no evidence of mass fraud.
It declared a state of emergency for a year when it took power and has since extended it twice for six months, with the latest phase expiring on Wednesday.
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party was decimated by the coup, with thousands of its members arrested or jailed, including Suu Kyi, and many more in hiding. Suu Kyi has described this year's planned election as "phoney" and said her party would not acknowledge it.
(With inputs from agencies)
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