Six months after a coup overthrew Myanmar's democratically elected government alleging election fraud, military leader Min Aung Hlaing has declared himself prime minister of the country. On Sunday, the official said that he plans to be in charge for two years during an extended state of emergency before holding an election in 2023.
The State Administrative Council in Myanmar has announced an interim government with the chairman of the State Administration Council and the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, taking up the post of Prime Minister. Myanmar ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party had won the election remains on trial. Since being arrested alongside several other top leaders, she has since been charged with multiple crimes including illegally possessing walkie-talkie radios and violating COVID-19 rules.
The military takeover was met with massive public protests that resulted in a lethal crackdown by security forces who routinely fire live ammunition into crowds. Over the last few months, the country has repeatedly made headlines for protests and violent clashes. According to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, 940 people have been confirmed to be killed since the military takeover on February 1.
In the meantime, Southeast Asia's top diplomats are meeting today to appoint a special envoy to help deal with the political crisis and violence gripping Myanmar and finalize an emergency plan to help control a coronavirus outbreak that many fear is spiralling out of control in the military-ruled nation.
The country is presently struggling with its worst COVID-19 outbreak that has overwhelmed its already crippled health care system. Limitations on oxygen sales have led to widespread allegations that the military is directing supplies to government supporters and military-run hospitals.
At the same time, medical workers have been targeted by authorities after spearheading a civil disobedience movement that urged professionals and civil servants not to cooperate with the government. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has blamed the public's mistrust in the military's efforts to control the outbreak on "fake news and misinformation via social networks," and accused those behind it of using COVID-19 "as a tool of bioterrorism."
(With inputs from agencies)