Biden threatens U.S. sanctions after Myanmar coup, launches policy review
- 02 February 2021
U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday threatened to reimpose sanctions on Myanmar following a coup by the country’s military leaders and called for a concerted international response to press them to relinquish power, APA reports citing Reuters.
Biden condemned the military’s takeover from the civilian-led government on Monday and its detention of elected leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi as “a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and the rule of law.”
The Myanmar crisis marks a first major test of Biden’s pledge to collaborate more with allies on international challenges, especially on China’s rising influence, in contrast to former President Donald Trump’s often go-it-alone “America First” approach.
It also represented a rare policy alignment between Biden’s fellow Democrats and top Republicans as they joined in denouncing the coup and urging Myanmar’s military face consequences.
“The international community should come together in one voice to press the Burmese military to immediately relinquish the power they have seized, release the activists and officials they have detained,” Biden said in a statement.
“The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy. The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action,” he said.
The Biden administration quickly launched high-level internal discussions aimed at crafting a “whole of government” response to the coup and plans to consult closely with Congress, a U.S. official later told Reuters on condition of anonymity. There was no immediate word on how long it would take to reach any decisions.
Biden also called on the military in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma, to lift all restrictions on telecommunications and to refrain from violence against civilians.
He said the United States was “taking note of those who stand with the people of Burma in this difficult hour.”
“We will work with our partners throughout the region and the world to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, as well as to hold accountable those responsible for overturning Burma’s democratic transition,” he said.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won a landslide 83% in a Nov. 8 election. The army said in taking over in the early hours of Monday that it had responded to what it called election fraud.