The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday on the military coup in Myanmar, which Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called “a serious blow to democratic reforms” in the Southeast Asian nation, reported AP.
Just before the newly elected members of Myanmar’s parliament were due to be sworn in on February 1, the military detained the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar President Win Myint and other key figures from the ruling party, the National League for Democracy. The military later announced it had taken control of the country for 12 months and declared a state of emergency.
Britain’s UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward, who is this month’s council president, said that the council will look at “a range of measures” to uphold the November 8 presidential election won by Suu Kyi’s party. The council will also deliberate on ways to secure the release of the Nobel peace laureate and other leaders arrested by the military, she said.
“At the moment, we don’t have specific ideas on measures,” Woodward added. But at the United Nations, that often means sanctions on a country, according to AP.
The coup followed the landslide victory of National League for Democracy and Suu Kyi in national elections in November last year, with the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party faring poorly in its key strongholds. The country’s military refused to accept citing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.
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United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the world body has been unable to contact officials in Myanmar and had no information on those being held. Dujarric also expressed fears the military action “may make the situation worse” for the estimated 6 lakh Rohingya in northern Rakhine state, including 1,20,000 people “who are effectively confined to camps”.
Meanwhile, Suu Kyi’s whereabouts remained unknown more than 24 hours on Tuesday after her arrest, reported Reuters. Her only communication has come in the form of a statement she wrote calling for protests against military dictatorship.
The National League for Democracy’s executive committee demanded the release of all detainees “as soon as possible”. In a post on the Facebook page of senior party official May Win Myint, the committee also called for the military to acknowledge the election results and for the new parliament to be allowed to sit.
US threatens to impose sanctions
After strongly opposing the military’s attempt to “impede Myanmar’s democratic transition” , United States President Joe Biden has threatened to reinstate sanctions on the country. The US had removed sanctions over the past decade as Myanmar progressed to democracy.
In a statement released on Monday, Biden said “force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election”. Biden added that the United States will “stand up for democracy wherever it is under attack”.
“The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy,” the statement said. “The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action.”