Western nations urge military to ‘adhere to democratic norms’ as coup fears escalate 

Embassies and diplomatic missions in Yangon representing 16 Western countries have urged the military “to adhere to democratic norms” amid growing concerns over the threat of a coup. 

The United States, the United Kingdom, and the EU’s delegation in Myanmar were among those who issued a joint statement as the Tatmadaw ramped up its rhetoric over what it claims is possible voter fraud in last year’s election. 

“We urge the military, and all other parties in the country, to adhere to democratic norms, and we oppose any attempt to alter the outcome of the elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition,” said the statement, which was also endorsed by Norway, New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Switzerland.  

“We look forward to the peaceful convening of the Parliament on February 1 and the election of the President and speakers,” it added. 

All lawmakers who won Union-level seats on November 8 – the vast majority of whom are from the National League for Democracy (NLD) – had been due to take their seats on Monday. 

But later on Friday state broadcaster MRTV announced that the Amyotha Hluttaw, Myanmar’s upper house, would convene a day later than planned, on February 2. 

No plans to postpone proceedings at the Pyithu Hluttaw, the lower house, have been announced yet. 

The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, on Thursday expressed “great concern” over developments in Myanmar. 

“He urges all actors to desist from any form of incitement or provocation, demonstrate leadership and to adhere to democratic norms and respect the outcome of the 8 November general election,” Guterres’s spokesperson said in a statement. “All electoral disputes should be resolved through established legal mechanisms.”

Since the NLD’s massive landslide win in November, the military and its proxy party, the USDP, have sought to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the poll. 

A Tatmadaw spokesperson on Tuesday refused to rule out a coup as he presented foreign media in Naypyitaw with what he said was evidence of possible widespread voter fraud. 

Then on Wednesday commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing said the constitution could be repealed “if the law is not abided by.” 

The charter offers no legal avenue for the military to take power without the consent of the president, so repealing it could set the stage for a coup. 

Until now the military’s rhetoric about the constitution, which it drafted itself in 2008, has always been to suggest that it must be respected at all costs. 

The People’s Alliance for Credible Elections and several other Myanmar-based election observer groups issued a joint statement on Friday urging the Tatmadaw and other parties to respect the election result. 

The observers noted some “inconsistencies in election administration” in November, the statement said, but “found that the results of the elections were credible and reflected the will of the majority voters.”

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