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Myanmar Coup

Myanmar military forms election watchdog with eye on new poll

Junta appoints central bank governor and government ministers

A soldier with the Myanmar military sits inside a vehicle in downtown Yangon on Feb. 2.   © Reuters

YANGON -- Myanmar's military announced on Tuesday that it has established a State Administrative Council chaired by the commander in chief Min Aung Hlaing, who seized legislative, executive and judicial powers following the coup d'etat on Monday.

The SAC appointed election commissioners as well as the governor of the central bank. Though its powers are unclear, the council appears to have been put in place to control the administrative branch and could play an important political role.

According to the announcement, the SAC will consist of 11 members, the majority of whom will be from the military. Vice Senior General Soe Win will be its vice chair. Similar administrative councils will also be established in states and regions.

The SAC will also set up a new five-member election commission, which could influence future elections.

The army is justifying the coup by alleging fraud in the November election. It says it will hold new elections but has not specified when. The SAC also appointed a construction minister and attorney general.

Prior to the announcement of the SAC, Min Aung Hlaing attended a meeting with the appointed ministers on Tuesday and said, "We must lead the country until a new government is formed after the next general election." Among the priorities he mentioned was to examine the voter list, which the military says is not accurate.

The current constitution, enacted by the military junta in 2008, says that if the president declares a state of emergency, all legislative, executive and judicial powers will be vested in the commander in chief.

On Monday, the army detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior members of the National League for Democracy. Vice President Myint Swe, a former member of the army, declared a state of emergency as acting president.

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