Myanmar junta chief takes new PM title, pledges elections in two years

Myanmar’s military ruler Min Aung Hlaing has taken on a new title as prime minister of a newly formed caretaker government, state media reported on Sunday, six months after the army seized power from a civilian government. Min Aung Hlaing has chaired the military-backed State Administration Council (SAC) that has run Myanmar since it was formed just after the Feb. 1 coup, and the caretaker government will replace it.

“In order to perform the country’s duties fast, easily and effectively , the state administration council has been reformed as caretaker government of Myanmar,” a newsreader on state Myawaddy television said. Earlier on Sunday, Min Aung Hlaing said that elections would be held and a state of emergency lifted by August 2023, extending the military’s initial timeline given when it deposed Aung San Suu Kyi six months ago. The country has been in turmoil since the army ousted the civilian leader in February, launching a bloody crackdown on dissent that has killed more than 900 people according to a local monitoring group. A resurgent virus wave has also amplified havoc, with many hospitals empty of pro-democracy medical staff, and the World Bank has forecast the economy will contract by up to 18 percent. In a televised address junta leader Min Aung Hlaing said on Sunday “we will accomplish the provisions of the state of emergency by August 2023. I pledge to hold multiparty elections without fail,” he added.