Tag Archives: coup

Tatmadaw pledges to hold elections in one year as NLD calls on supporters to protest coup; avoid all travel – Myanmar Situation Update

Please be advised:

  • The Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) said it would hold elections at the end of the one-year state of emergency, which was imposed on February 1 after it seized power in a coup during the pre-dawn hours (local time) on the same day.
  • In a statement on behalf of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, the National League for Democracy (NLD) called on the public not to accept the February 1 coup and protest against the military’s actions.
  • Internet and TV channels continue to remain largely suspended, excluding the military-run Myawady TV, while some service providers have reportedly been able to continue some wireless connection services.
  • The Yangon Youth Network (YYN), Generation Wave, Students and Youth Congress of Burma (SYCB), Youth Response (YR), and other student unions condemned the military action, vowing that young people will stand against it.
  • Bangladesh called for peace and stability in Myanmar, further adding that it expects to move forward with the process of voluntary repatriation of Rohingya Muslim refugees, which officials in Dhaka expect to resume in June.
  • China’s Foreign Ministry stated that it has “noticed” the situation and that it “hopes the various parties in Myanmar will appropriately resolve their differences.”
  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) called for dialogue among the parties involved and the “return to normalcy.”
  • Large-scale protests against the Tatmadaw’s actions were recorded on February 1 in Bangkok, Thailand and Tokyo, Japan.

Assessments & Forecast:

Military’s call for elections unlikely to lead to reversion of civilian control    

  1. The recent comments by Suu Kyi and the NLD calling on citizens not to accept the current situation are likely to prolong ongoing military restrictions in the coming term. This is especially given the military’s concerns that protest calls and youth groups organizing online will spark widespread demonstrations. However, the military has seemingly refrained from deploying large numbers of soldiers in public areas, opting for control over communication channels and the defense of primary government installations rather than an on-ground show of force. FORECAST: That said, the Tatmadaw will be on high alert over the coming days and weeks until the situation stabilizes. It will likely continue to preemptively arrest youth leaders, civil society elements, NLD members, journalists, and ethnic group representatives in a bid to head-off nascent signs of unrest. Any large-scale rallies will likely be met with arrest sweeps and, to some extent, a violent crackdown.
  2. FORECAST: While the Tatmadaw has stated its intention to hold elections at the end of the one-year state of emergency, military officials are likely to use the coming period to reinforce its control over the country and its major government institutions. As such, while elections in some form may take place within the stated time frame, the country is unlikely to witness a return to high levels of civil control as has been the case since 2015. The return to military rule may also jeopardize the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), signed between the civilian government and ten ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) in 2015. While this agreement has been largely ineffective in constraining kinetic Tatmadaw-EAO conflicts in the country’s periphery, it was still a symbolic achievement. As such, the developments will exacerbate long-simmering tensions between the Tatmadaw and various EAOs, including the Arakan Army (AA), the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and other members of the Northern Alliance.
  3. The status of Rohingya Muslim refugees in neighboring Bangladesh is also likely to impact the geopolitical landscape in the aftermath of the events. This is especially relevant given the uncertainties surrounding the UN-backed repatriation process, which is unlikely to witness progress given past military policies towards the group. As such, the developments may dissuade large swaths of already-wary Rohingya from returning to Myanmar. FORECAST: The repatriation issue is expected to be at the forefront of regional and international discussions once the domestic situation becomes clear in the coming days and weeks. However, international pressure is unlikely to dissuade continued military action against the minority group.

Potential Hotspots in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma) - Myanmar Situation Update

Potential Hotspots in Naypyidaw, Myanmar (Burma) - Myanmar Situation Update

China’s relatively neutral response reflects desire for stability to protect its investments, prevent cross-border refugee flows 

  1. Parts of the international community have been quick to condemn the coup, including the US, the UK, and the EU. The developments present a test to these and other countries and multilateral institutions that previously championed Suu Kyi and the country’s democratic transition beginning in 2008. This is especially the case for the Biden administration in Washington, which issued a statement that the US stands “with the people of Myanmar in their aspirations for freedom, democracy, and development.”
  2. FORECAST: The events will test US President Joe Biden’s ability to rally a unified stand against democratic backsliding, which is a central plank of his foreign policy. Over the coming days and weeks, should the Tatmadaw refuse to relent, Washington may impose additional targeted sanctions against top military figures and their business assets. It is also likely to lobby its partners that have vocally decried the events to follow suit. However, the US has already sanctioned top Tatmadaw figures for past actions against the Rohingya, including chief Min Aung Hlaing, who is now effectively the country’s leader. Thus, it is unclear what punitive actions it has at its disposal.
  3. Conversely, China has taken a different tack and is instead calling for a return to stability. This is likely because Beijing’s primary interests lie in a number of economic and infrastructure projects in Myanmar, rather than the make-up of the government. Any immediate pause in these entities is unlikely to concern China, given the deep impact COVID-19 has had on cross-border trade and other facets of the economy. Further, over recent years, China has formed warm relations with both the civilian government and the Tatmadaw, which also informs its relatively neutral stance regarding the developments.
  4. FORECAST: China will continue monitoring the events closely, with its primary focus being on a possible influx of refugees crossing the more than 2,000 km-long border between the two countries. It will also seek to ensure stability in the country to protect its investments, most of which fall under the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). Should Washington and other Western countries sanction the military, China will likely be eager to deepen ties with Naypyidaw to capitalize on the country’s waning favor with those calling for a restoration of the democratically-elected NLD to power.


  1. Avoid all travel to Myanmar over the coming days due to the extreme risk of civil unrest and political instability.
  2. Those currently residing in Myanmar are advised to shelter-in-place, stock up on adequate supplies of food, water, medicine, and any other essential goods for at least a week, and immediately prepare evacuation procedures to leave the country, given the growing threat of violent civil unrest.
  3. Those operating in Myanmar are advised to consult with us at [email protected]
  4. Avoid all government buildings and protests due to the risks of violence by both anti-government protesters and security forces.

Country unlikely to experience substantive democratic change following coup – Zimbabwe Analysis

Current Situation

Country unlikely to experience substantive democratic change following coup - Zimbabwe Analysis | MAX Security

On November 24, Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president following the resignation of his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, amid a special parliamentary session set to discuss Mugabe’s impeachment  on November 21.

Mugabe’s resignations came nearly one week after Zimbabwe’s military took control of the country on November 15, confining President Robert Mugabe and his family to their residence, deploying troops to Harare, and cordoning off key government buildings.

The military intervention came in the wake of a high-profile purge of cabinet ministers and officials of the ruling Zanu-PF party deemed a threat to President Mugabe and his positioning of his wife, Grace, as his possible successor.

Meanwhile, the influential Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA), which had severed ties with the Zanu-PF days before the coup over the expulsion of liberation war veterans from the party, called on Mugabe to resign from the presidency.

In tandem, tens of thousands took to the streets of Harare on November 18 to peacefully protest in support of the army and against President Mugabe’s rule following a call from ZNLWVA’s chairman, Chris Mutsvangwa. Peaceful demonstration continued during the following days.

In light of President Mugabe’s persistent refusal to step down, the Zanu-PF expelled him and Grace Mugabe from the party on November 19, during which they also called on the deposed president to resign by November 21 or face impeachment proceedings. President Mugabe would ultimately ignore the resignation deadline imposed by the Zanu-PF, triggering the the initiation of the impeachment process in the early evening hours of November 21.

Country unlikely to experience substantive democratic change following coup - Zimbabwe Analysis | MAX Security

Assessments & Forecast

The removal of Robert Mugabe as President of Zimbabwe is the culmination of an internal struggle over his succession. In the first instance, these divisions came to a head over Grace Mugabe’s ambitions to succeed her husband as President of Zimbabwe. She enjoyed the support of the influential Generation 40 (G40) bloc of Zanu-PF, and steps taken by her supporters within the party and President Mugabe to position her as the president’s successor would ultimately exacerbate existing divisions within the party. Notably, Mugabe’s marginalization of Emmerson Mnangagwa, first by way of his removal as Zimbabwe’s justice minister in October and finally as vice president, served to aggravate those inter-party tensions. Mnangagwa’s influence within the party bred suspicion among the pro-Mugabe faction and especially gave the Mugabes themselves pause. Despite enjoying the support of certain powerful Zanu-PF officials, Grace Mugabe was an unpopular, and therefore weak, choice to succeed her husband, making her vulnerable to a challenger from within the party like Mnangagwa, who was widely respected within the Zanu-PF, the military, and the powerful ZNLWVA for his record as a war veteran and as a high-ranking Mugabe deputy dating back to the 1980s.

The Zanu-PF purges that triggered the ZDF intervention on November 15 that would culminate in Robert Mugabe’s removal as President of Zimbabwe arose from these divisions within the country’s ruling party. Not only did these expulsions deepened divisions between the G40 and the pro-Mnangagwa “Lacoste faction”, they also placed both the military and the ZNLWVA, two of the country’s most powerful institutions, firmly on the side of Mugabe’s opponents within the Zanu-PF. As such, the expulsions directly set in motion the events that would end with Mugabe’s resignation. While prevailing social, political, and economic conditions in Zimbabwe were likely responsible for the relative lack of resistance from the Zimbabwean public to Mugabe’s removal, as the ZDF and the ZNLWVA are revered in Zimbabwe as embodying political legitimacy, their support of Mnangagwa was instrumental in Mugabe’s ouster.

As Mnangagwa takes Mugabe’s place as Zimbabwe’s president, it bears noting that while the country will experience its first change of leadership in 37 years, the power dynamics that underpin Zimbabwe’s politics remain effectively unchanged by the events of recent weeks. As previously noted, Mugabe’s removal was fundamentally the result of an internal struggle within the ruling Zanu-PF. Opposition parties never played a major role in the push to depose him, nor did those leading the effort ever seek the opposition’s participation. It is equally crucial to note Mnangagwa’s own role in suppressing political opposition to Mugabe from his early days in the administration. Mnangagwa’s hardline stance against political dissent was most recently evident by his alleged role in manipulating the second round of Zimbabwe’s 2008 elections, following a Mugabe loss in the first round, by reportedly initiating a campaign of violence against opposition supporters and ballot rigging. This developments would ultimately make him, a number of other powerful Mugabe loyalists, and Mugabe himself the targets of international sanctions. In light of this precedent, looking ahead, Mnangagwa is unlikely to promote a new political culture that is more inclusive of Zimbabwe’s opposition parties and their supporters.

Almost immediately after the announcement of Mugabe’s resignation, large-scale public celebrations broke out in Harare and a number of urban centers throughout Zimbabwe, highlighting the event’s significance as a cathartic moment for many Zimbabweans. A key challenge for Mnangagwa in the early days of his presidency will be to manage the public perception of his administration as representing a shift away from the political order designed by Mugabe while continuing to advance the Zanu-PF’s objectives. It is likely that many Zimbabweans who see Mnangagwa’s assumption of power as an opportunity for true change will expect to see that change manifest, first and foremost, in the form of a freer, more open, and more democratic political process.
FORECAST: However, Mnangagwa is unlikely to jeopardize the ruling party’s political hegemony by subjecting it to such a process. He might liberalize Zimbabwe’s press to allow opposition parties and their leaders greater freedom to promote their agendas in an effort to create the appearance of a freer society and to validate the above feeling of catharsis. Additionally, as witnessed in 2008, Mnangagwa might invite opposition parties such as the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to take part in the interim government, nonetheless, their eventual involvement is expected to be superficial, as substantial changes remain unlikely.

In the first months of his presidency, Mnangagwa will likely attempt to foster continued public support of his presidency. In this context, the country’s flagging economy is perhaps the area of greatest concern for the Zimbabwean people as the country remains in the throes of a long-term economic and financial crisis, which has seen the purchasing power of the country’s citizens disintegrate and the value its currency, dwindle.
FORECAST: Accordingly, Mnangagwa will likely seek to prioritize economic renewal as a means of shoring up support for his presidency and the Zanu-PF leading up to the 2018 elections, first and foremost by initiating new appeals for economic aid from international donors, namely western powers, as well as various international financial institutions. Recent precedent in other parts of Africa, most notably in Rwanda under long-serving President Paul Kagame, has demonstrated the effectiveness of economic revival as a means for a head of state to rally support for his government after a long period of economic hardship, even if at the expense of promoting democracy. Thus, Mnangagwa can be expected to prioritize economic recovery in the early months of his presidency and likely up to next year’s elections until he has secured his next term of office.

However, Mnangagwa’s success in reviving Zimbabwe’s economy will be limited, at best, without the support of the international community. The governments and institutions best positioned to provide Zimbabwe with economic aid are unlikely to do so if they perceive the new Mnangagwa government as a simple continuation of the Mugabe administration. Indeed, foreign governments previously imposed economic sanctions against the Zimbabwean government and many of its officials under Mugabe, including Mugabe himself, and have extended them as recently as January 2017.
FORECAST: The indispensability of international assistance to Zimbabwe’s economic recovery over the coming months represents the strongest incentive for Mnangagwa to promote democracy and pluralism in Zimbabwe, even if only superficially. Accordingly, it is likely that Zimbabwe’s 2018 general elections will continue as planned, likely under the supervision of international election observers from start to finish as precondition for economic aid.


Travel to Harare and Bulawayo can continue while adhering to basic security precautions against common criminality.

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