Biden said the US is working with allies and partners to address the army’s takeover and Aung San Suu Kyi’s arrest.
Myanmar’s military should relinquish power and release officials and activists detained in a coup, US President Joe Biden said in his first foreign policy address on Thursday.
Biden said the United States was working with allies and partners to address the generals’ takeover on Monday, during which they arrested elected leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilians.
“There can be no doubt in a democracy force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election,” said Biden.
“The Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized and release the advocates and activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions on telecommunications and refrain from violence.”
Myanmar’s long and troubled transition to democracy was derailed on Monday when army commander Min Aung Hlaing took power, alleging irregularities in an election last November that Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide.
On Monday, Biden threatened to reimpose sanctions on the government, arguing that the US had removed previous sanctions on the nation during the past decade in an effort to encourage democracy.
Former President Barack Obama began lifting US sanctions on Myanmar in 2011. By 2016, most had been removed. Biden served as Obama’s vice president at the time.
On Thursday, the UN Security Council called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s immediate release and others detained by the military.
The Security Council “stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence, and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law”.
The council also expressed concern “at the restrictions on civil society, journalists and media workers”.
The statement was issued two days after the council held an emergency meeting behind closed doors to discuss the military’s seizure of power on the eve of the first meeting of the country’s new parliament.
The military said its move was necessary because the government had not acted on its unsubstantiated claims of fraud in November’s election in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party swept the vote and the military did poorly.
Aung San Suu Kyi has since been charged with possessing illegally imported walkie-talkies, which carries a maximum three-year sentence, according to her party.
Experts have worried that the future of the fragile peace process that has sought to end Myanmar’s decades-long conflict between the military, armed ethnic groups and militias has become even more uncertain.
Myanmar has one of the longest civil conflicts in the world, with fighting continuing at different times across the country since 1949.