A specialist on Myanmar
Larry Jagan is a specialist on Myanmar and a former BBC World Service News editor for the region.
Millions and millions of protesters swarmed onto the streets throughout Myanmar earlier this week in an overwhelming rejection of the military's seizure of power. Despite dire threats and warnings from the country's coup leader, the army chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, marchers thronged the thoroughfares even in small towns to demonstrate their deep support for democracy and their rejection of the coup.
Myanmar's military has declared war on the country's citizens. In the last few days the army has stepped up its campaign of intimidation and harassment. But despite the army's escalation of threats, coercion and arrests, the protesters and their civil disobedience movement -- formed to fight the military coup -- remain defiant and uncowed by the authorities' aggressive bullying. Neither side is showing signs of backing down, increasing fears that the continuing confrontation between the protestors and the security forces will only end badly.
Myanmar's political crisis is deepening rapidly, raising fears of an imminent violent confrontation between the military and pro-democracy protesters. Every day hundreds and thousands continue to demonstrate their refusal to accept the military coup. In the past few days, the military have begun a concerted crackdown: using water cannons, riot police charges and shooting above the crowd's heads to scare them.
Opposition in Myanmar to the coup is escalating daily, as the new military-led regime tries to pacify the business community and quickly return the country to normal. The civil disobedience campaign initiated by the country's health workers is also growing in numbers, affecting hospitals, schools and other government offices. So far, the authorities have been powerless to stem the movement. But as the momentum grows there are increasing fears of a major confrontation between the peaceful protesters and the security forces.
Myanmar's military has seized control of the country after detaining de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other politicians in a pre-dawn raid yesterday morning. There have been massive detentions in this military round up: all key politicians, the regional chief ministers, the top leadership of the governing National League for Democracy (NLD), most national and local members of parliament, and hundreds of pro-democracy and human rights activists. Little is known about their whereabouts at present, though it appears that the Lady -- as she is known -- is under house arrest. But there are widespread fears about her continued safety and the other detainees.
Behind the scenes efforts are continuing to break Myanmar's political deadlock that threatens the country's democratic transition. Talks between the military and the government started a few days ago -- as tensions on the ground rose and rumours of a military coup grew -- but failed to make any real progress, according to both government and military sources.
Concerns about a possible military coup have swept across Myanmar this week amid signs of a deepening constitutional crisis. Tensions between Myanmar's military and its political allies on one hand and the country's pro-democracy politicians on the other are worsening, as a dispute over the election outcome intensifies, ahead of a landmark court case later today to decide the legitimacy of these electoral fraud claims. In the meantime, comments by the military earlier this week have fueled fears of a possible coup.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is scheduled to arrive in Myanmar on Monday on a critical two-day visit. It is intended to further strengthen Chinese influence in the country, in light of the changing international dynamics in the region, amid fears that China's sway is beginning to wane.
Myanmar's foreign policy is set to undergo a significant shakeup in the coming year as the government readjusts to the changing international environment in a post-election, post-Covid and post-Trump era. In the middle of these evolving dynamics, Myanmar will increasingly become a major focus of attention -- and be a dominant determinant of the balance of power within Asia.
Myanmar's ruling National League for Democracy's electoral victory has emboldened its leaders to press on with major changes, including at the very top of the government. There is likely to be a new president -- though Aung San Suu Kyi in her role as State Counsellor will still effectively be running the country -- and a new look cabinet. In the meantime there is also likely to be a changing of the guard in the country's all-powerful military, or Tatmadaw.