India calls for upholding rule of law & democratic process in Myanmar

NEW DELHI: India on Monday stated that it has noted Myanmar developments with deep concern and called for upholding rule of law and democratic process.

“We have noted the developments in Myanmar with deep concern. India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar. We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. We are monitoring the situation closely,” MEA noted in a strongly-worded statement.

India has huge stakes in Myanmar who was recently gifted Covishield vaccines. India shares over 1600 km long land boundary with Myanmar. It also shares a maritime boundary and has supplied submarines to Myanmar military.

USA and Australia have reacted strongly to the developments asking the leaders to be freed.

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the governing party were detained in a series of early morning raids, the spokesman for the governing National League for Democracy said on Monday, following days of escalating tension between her civilian government and the country’s military fulled talk of a coup.

Spokesman Myo Nyunt told Reuters news agency that Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other leaders had been “taken” in the early hours of the morning.

Myo Nyunt later told AFP news agency that given the situation, “we have to assume that the military is staging a coup.”

Myanmar’s Parliament, where the military is given a quarter of seats — the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) — was due to sit in the country’s capital Naypyitaw from Monday.

The NLD won November’s elections by a landslide and military may have feared that they could be marginalised.

Indian Foreign Secretary and Army Chief visited Myanmar in October to widen strategic cooperation.

During Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla’s visit to Myanmar in October, he held extensive discussions on ways to mitigate Covid-19 impact, including through vaccine development, the supply of medicines, equipment and technology and capacity building. “Myanmar is a country of special importance to us as it stands at the confluence of our ‘Neighborhood First’ and ‘Act East’ policies…We are meeting in exceptional times that have thrown up challenges but also avenues and opportunities to collaborate in divergent and multifaceted areas. India is prepared to continue to extend all possible support to Myanmar in mitigating the health and economic impact of COVID-19…With respect to the COVID vaccine, we stand committed to sharing our capabilities with our strategic partners, including Myanmar, in our collective best interest,” Shringla had said on that occasion.

During the October visit, it was decided to expand security partnership through early conclusion of the Extradition Treaty, Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty on Civil and Commercial matters and Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons to fight cross-border insurgency. It may be recalled that Myanmar handed over 22 insurgents to India in the middle of last year.

Myanmar is India’s closest defence partner in the region. A team for the deployment of Meteorological squadrons visited Myanmar last year. India will also host Myanmar’s representative at Information Fusion Centre for the Indian Ocean Region.

India’s assistance to Myanmar is around $ 1.4 billion. The Sittwe Port built by India and key to Kaladan Multimodal transport project will be operationalised by the first quarter of 2021. With respect to the 69 bridges on the Trilateral Highway, India will soon be moving forward with the tendering process, it has been learnt. Trilateral Highway connects India with Thailand via Myanmar and maybe explored to connect Vietnam.

Other Indo-Myanmar agreements such as Project Agreement for the establishment of modern Integrated Check Post at Tamu, MoU for the construction of 50 basic schools and the Project Agreement for the upgrading of agricultural mechanization sub-station will be signed shortly. India will also extend support for the construction of Bwaynu bridge in Myanmar.

In the recent past, there has been pushback against China by Myanmar over fears of the debt trap and BRI projects had slowed down.