Myanmar’s military leadership has announced it will extend the state of emergency in the country by six months.
The ruling State Administration Council (SAC) first declared a state of emergency after Senior General Min Aung Hlaing seized power in a coup in February 2021, deposing the democratically-elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Min Aung Hlaing will extend the state of emergency after the military’s national defence and security council “unanimously supported” the proposal, state media reported on Monday.
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“In our country, we must continue to strengthen the ‘genuine and disciplined multi-party democratic system’ which is the desire of the people,” the state-run Global New Light newspaper quoted Min Aung Hlaing as saying.
The announcement comes after the SAC last month announced the execution of four anti-coup activists, including a close ally of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, drawing condemnation from rights groups and countries including the United States, Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Yadanar Maung, a spokesperson for activist group Justice For Myanmar, said the extension lacks a legal basis.
“It is imperative that the international community rejects this sham, impose real consequences on the junta and hold it accountable for its continued war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Maung told Al Jazeera.
“The junta’s terror campaign and its sham decrees are enabled by the flow of arms and funds, which must be urgently cut through a global arms embargo and targeted sanctions, including on oil and gas revenues, and jet fuel.”
Myanmar has been embroiled in chaos since the coup, with conflict erupting across the country in the wake of a violent crackdown by authorities on mostly peaceful protests in cities.
Min Aung Hlaing has justified the coup by alleging widespread voter fraud during the November 2020 general election, in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a majority of seats.
The Asian Network for Free Elections, an independent election monitor in Bangkok, said in a report last year it had found no evidence of mass fraud and the November 2020 poll was “by and large, representative of the will of the people”.
Min Aung Hlaing’s government has promised to hold new elections in August next year, though critics are sceptical any upcoming vote will be free and fair.