Myanmar’s military leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, on Sunday declared himself prime minister six months after seizing power from the elected government, Reuters reported.

In a televised address, the general who came to power after staging a coup in February said he would lead the country till August 2023. He also repeated a pledge to hold elections after that.

He announced that a national state of emergency would be extended for another two years, AP reported. “We must create conditions to hold a free and fair multiparty general election,” Hlaing said. “We have to make preparations. I pledge to hold the multiparty general election without fail.”

Hlaing said his government was ready to work with any special envoy named by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Foreign ministers of ASEAN countries will hold a meeting in relation to the crisis on Monday, Al-Jazeera reported. At the meeting, the ministers will aim to finalise the appointment of a special envoy who will be tasked with ending violence and promoting dialogue between the military and its opponents.

Hlaing has chaired the State Administration Council that was formed just after the coup and that has run Myanmar since then. “In order to perform the country’s duties fast, easily and effectively, the state administration council has been re-formed as caretaker government of Myanmar,” a newsreader on state-run Myawaddy television said, Reuters reported.

The coup

On February 1, Myanmar’s military staged a coup against the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The military claimed her landslide victory in national elections in November was achieved through voter fraud, but offered no credible evidence. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party had fared poorly in its key strongholds in the election.

The military takeover was met with massive public protests that has resulted in a lethal crackdown by security forces. Till Sunday, 939 people have been killed by the authorities since February 1, according to a tally by the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Casualties have also been rising among the military and police as armed resistance grows.

On July 28, the Human Rights Watch cited media reports to note that about 16,000 Myanmar citizens had crossed into Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh Mizoram and Nagaland. The organisation called on the Indian government to release all the detained asylum seekers.

On 19 July, United Nations experts said that human rights defenders in Myanmar are being targeted under a “brute force terror campaign” by the military junta.

“It is critical that nations stand with and for the besieged people of Myanmar who are being held hostage by an illegal military junta,” said Tom Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar. “It is time for strong, focused and coordinate action that includes economic sanctions and an arms embargo.”