Interviewed by Ryo Kiyomiya
The Myanmar military has explained its seizing power as consistent with the present Constitution, which was enacted by the military government at the time. However, this is apparently a military coup, as the military first detained the President and then afterwards unilaterally declared a state of emergency via its interim President backed by the military.
Since the landslide election victory of the ruling National League for Democracy in November of last year, the military has claimed the election was marred by fraud. Although the election commission rejected the allegation, discontent grew inside the military and became the pretext for the coup. The power balance within the military played a role as well. The loss of power by former president Thein Sein, who came from military and led a new civilian government in 2011, has led to an increase in the influence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, Min Aung Hlaing.
Since the birth of the civilian government, many American corporations have established a foothold in Myanmar. The country’s geopolitical importance increased amid the conflict between the U.S. and China. The assumption of the Myanmar military may be that the international community would not unite in imposing sanctions on the country as it did when it was under military rule. It is possible, also, that the military may consider revising the constitution to suit its purposes. The coup is a reversal of democratization of Myanmar.
Toshiniro Kudo, a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, specializes in Southeast Asian regional studies.