The U.S. and its partners intend to support the restoration of democracy in Myanmar and bring those behind its undermining to justice, may reconsider the sanctions regime in case of a departure from democracy, U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday.
He called the military’s “seizure of power,” the arrest of senior leaders, and the declaration of an emergency “a direct attack on the country’s transition to democracy and the rule of law.”
“In a democracy, force should never try to change the will of the people or try to erase the outcome of a credible election,” Biden said. The U.S. leader called on “the international community to work together to pressure Burma’s (Myanmar’s old name) military to immediately surrender seized power, release captured activists and government officials, and prevent violence against civilians.”
“We will work with our partners in the region and around the world to support the restoration of democracy and legitimate order, and to hold accountable those involved in undermining the democratic transition in Burma.”
Biden recalled that the lifting of sanctions on Myanmar was conditional on that country’s transition to democracy. “The winding down of progress will make an immediate review of our sanctions powers and rules necessary, followed by appropriate action,” the U.S. president said.
On the morning of February 1, a few hours before the opening of the first session of the country’s new parliament elected at the November 8 general election, the Myanmar military, having previously accused the National Election Commission and the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party of rigging the election in favor of NLD, arrested the country’s government leaders, including President Win Myint and State Advisor (de facto prime minister) Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. At the same time, members of the government and senior government officials who were members of the NLD or affiliated with the ruling party were arrested.
During Monday morning, provincial government leaders and officials belonging to the NLD party were also arrested across the country.
On Monday afternoon, the military declared its full and permanent commitment to a multi-party democratic system and promised new fair and democratic elections “after the tasks of the state of the emergency period are completed.” The state of emergency regime in the country has been in place for one year.