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Myanmar military launches decision-making council after coup

YANGON

Myanmar’s military said late Tuesday that it has established a “State Administration Council” headed by its commander in chief, which will serve as the nation’s highest decision-making body during a one-year state of emergency imposed after Monday’s coup.

With coup leader Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing serving as its chairman, the 11-member council is tasked with launching a new election commission and other undertakings. The move signaled military rule has begun in earnest.

The military disputes the results of a November general election that was won decisively by the formerly ruling party and says a new “free and fair” election will be held, with power handed over to the winning party.

The newly created council includes three civilian members, who are all critical of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was Myanmar’s civilian leader from 2016 and put under house arrest following the coup.

Earlier Tuesday, the military held its first government meeting in the capital Naypyitaw since taking power. At the meeting, Min Aung Hlaing said he took over power because he “had no other choice,” according to an official statement from the military’s information service.

The statement quoted the general as saying that despite making repeated requests to avoid this situation, “the takeover was inevitable,” adding that “until a government is formed after the next election, the military needs to steer the country.”

Participants in the meeting included 11 newly appointed Cabinet ministers as well as acting President Myint Swe.

The Japanese government said Wednesday that it has determined that developments in Myanmar amounted to a military coup. But its top spokesman, Katsunobu Kato, did not address what would happen to Japanese aid to the Southeast Asian country.

Kato’s remarks came hours after the U.S. government said it has determined the military takeover constitutes a coup, an assessment triggering certain restrictions on foreign assistance, as well as a “broader review” of aid programs to the country.

Members of the U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, held a closed-door online meeting on Tuesday to discuss the Myanmar situation but failed to come up with a collective response after China and Russia requested more time to assess the matter, according to a diplomatic source.

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