Detention of Myanmar de facto leader set to expire

Former Burmese State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi is set to be released from prison today. The Nobel laureate and

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Photo: Aung Shine Oo/AP

Former Burmese State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi is set to be released from prison today.

The Nobel laureate and human rights icon was detained by police as part of a February 1 coup in which Burmese military (Tatmadaw) Senior General Min Aung Hlaing seized power, claiming wide-scale fraud in last November’s parliamentary elections. The election saw Aung San Suu Kyi’s party—the National League for Democracy (NLD)—win a landslide majority, granting it the power to form a government without military-backed political support for the next five years.

Expect Suu Kyi to call for Tatmadaw coup leaders to immediately step down and acknowledge the results of November’s elections, while continuing Myanmar’s progress toward democracy upon her release. Facing mounting international pressure—including US President Joe Biden’s recent freezing $1 billion in Tatmadaw assets—and increasing domestic protest, General Min Aung Hlaing will likely not respond in the short-term as he reassesses a potentially botched power-grab.

Still, as Suu Kyi staunchly defended Tatmadaw’s genocide of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority and has concentrated authority entirely within her own NLD party, her return to power will at best signal a step towards illiberal democracy.

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