Myanmar’s military government has extended its emergency rule until 2023 as the country remains driven by internal fighting following last year’s coup.
The junta took control of power last year after imprisoning popular democratic leader Aung Sung Suu Kyi and dismissing her government.
The military has promised to hold “free and fair” elections in the future without specifying any date.
But on Monday it said it needed more time to stabilise the country. The emergency rule gives it more power to detain people.
Many people in Myanmar are sceptical that the military will hold multi-party elections or transfer state power to an elected government. General Min Aung Hlaing’s regime first extended emergency rule last August and, under the powers granted by the order, he also appointed himself prime minister.
In his remarks he also said the country’s electoral system should be reformed by combining the first past the post system, under which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won majority in the 2020 election, with proportional representation.
The influence of “powerful parties” had drowned out other political voices, he argued.
The army – known as the Tatmadaw – launched the coup after alleging there had been massive voter fraud in the 2020 election, in which the NLD got more than 83% of the vote. International observers said the voting was largely free and fair.
The army arrested Suu Kyi and several leaders from her party. Ms Suu Kyi was moved to solitary confinement in June. Millions took to the streets in largely peaceful protests calling for the military to relinquish power. The military responded with live fire, water cannons and rubber bullets.
One rights group, the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP), says security forces have killed more than 2,100 people. The military is also accused of detaining thousands of political and civil society opponents.
Last week, the junta executed four democracy activists in the country’s first executions in decades. They included prominent democracy campaigner Ko Jimmy and a former MP and hip-hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw. The military government is widely resisted outside the capital Naypyidaw, and there is an active guerrilla front known as the People’s Defence Force (PDF). Gen Min Aung Hlaing also invited the leaders of Myanmar’s ethnic rebel armies – which have fought each other and the government for decades – for the second round of talks. Several rebel groups took part in the first round of talks in May but others who are fighting alongside the PDF did not attend.