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U.S., allies mark anniversary of Myanmar coup with fresh sanctions

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2023-01-31T14:49:42Z

An anti-coup protester looks out through a barricade during a protest against the military rule, in Yangon, Myanmar March 30, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

The United States and its allies will impose further sanctions on Myanmar on Tuesday, marking the two-year anniversary of the coup with curbs on energy officials and members of the junta, among others.

Washington will impose sanctions on the Union Election Commission, mining enterprises, energy officials and current and former military officials, according to a Treasury Department statement seen by Reuters.

It marks the first time the United States has targeted Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) officials under the current Myanmar sanctions program, a Treasury spokesperson said.

Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom also announced sanctions on Tuesday.

Myanmar’s top generals led a coup in February 2021 after five years of tense power-sharing under a quasi-civilian political system that was created by the military, which led to a decade of unprecedented reform.

The country has been in chaos since, with a resistance movement fighting the military on multiple fronts after a bloody crackdown on opponents that saw Western sanctions re-imposed.

Tuesday’s U.S. move will target the managing director and deputy managing director of the state-owned MOGE, which is the junta’s single largest revenue generating state-owned enterprise, according to the Treasury statement.

Human rights advocates have called for sanctions on MOGE, but Washington has so far held back from designating the state-owned enterprise.

Also among those that will be designated by Washington was the Union Minister of Energy, Myo Myint Oo, who Treasury said represents Myanmar’s government in international and domestic energy sector engagements and manages the state-owned entities involved in the production and export of oil and gas.

Mining Enterprise No 1 and Mining Enterprise No 2, both state-owned enterprises, as well as the Union Election Commission, are also set to be hit with sanctions by the United States.

The military has pledged to hold an election in August this year. On Friday, the junta announced tough requirements for parties to contest the election, including a huge increase in their membership, a move that could sideline the military’s opponents and cement its grip on power.

The rules favour the Union Solidarity and Development Party, a military proxy stacked with former generals, which was trounced by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party in 2015 and 2020 elections.

The NLD in November described the election as “phoney” and said it would not acknowledge it. The election has also been dismissed as a sham by Western governments.

Washington will also target former and Myanmar military officials, the Treasury said, accusing the Air Force of continuing to launch air strikes using Russian-made aircraft against pro-democracy forces that have killed civilians.

Canada targeted six individuals and prohibited the export, sale, supply or shipment of aviation fuel in its action on Tuesday, while Australia targeted members of the junta and a military-run company.

The United Kingdom designated two companies and two individuals for helping supply Myanmar’s air force with aviation fuel used to carry out bombing campaigns against its own citizens.

“The junta must be held to account for their brutal crackdown on opposition voices, terrorising air raids and brazen human rights violations,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

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