The military coup in Myanmar on Monday must not been seen as a surprise. Since the forming of the government about five years ago, the government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, has never been in charge due to the system of governance under the peculiar constitution drafted by the military in 2008.
According to the constitution, 25 percent seats of the parliament are reserved for the military officials, three very important ministries — home, defence and border — are to be headed by the military and one vice president will be nominated by the military. Military chief cannot be sacked by the government. And, there are many issues like these to make impossible for the civilian government to properly function.
The Myanmar military, which ruled the country almost all the time since the independence, actually never wanted to give up power. They simply pretended to hand the power to a civilian government just to get rid of the international sanctions that had been in place for a long time due to the military government’s worst possible human rights violations against its own people, most notably the Rohingyas.
Suu Kyi formed the government with full knowledge that ultimately the power would belong to the military and that she would be in charge of the government with very limited power. Suu Kyi even could not be the president again thanks to a provision of the military-framed constitution that states wife of a foreigner would not be able to become the head of the state.
On the heels of so many impediments, it was literally impossible for the civilian government to govern the country effectively. Of course, it is not clear if Suu Kyi, once revered by most of the world for her struggle for democracy, believed that she would be able to return her country to meaningful democracy. Many will, however, disagree with this notion, as she was rarely seen trying to overcome the unending influence of the military. The Noble peace prize winner even defended the heinous crimes, including genocide, committed by the military.
Against the backdrop of such a scenario, it can be safely said that military rule has always been there unofficially since 2016. The coup on Monday has just made it official.
Now, it is to be seen what the actual reason behind the incident. The military is claiming that voter frauds are the reason. Or, there are other reasons, including expression of willingness by the Suu Kyi’s party to reform the constitution to get rid of the influence of the military. Time will tell.
Another important aspect must be seen. And, that is the reactions and actions of the developed democratic world about the coup. Initial reactions are strong. But, will there be actions like broad-based sanctions? Will the measures of West, if any, be based on their experience of lifting sanctions last time knowing that the military would be actually in power behind the scene?