Biden administration officially calls Myanmar coup a 'coup'

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The Biden administration on Tuesday declared that the Myanmar military’s overthrow of the country’s civilian leadership met the legal definition of a “coup.” The official designation is significant as it places limits on aid to governments that have taken power by military means.

As a result, the United States will move to end what little direct financial assistance it offers to Myanmar’s government.

U.S. officials — including Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — have been trying to reach their Myanmar counterparts. But so far, officials said, there’s been no luck in reaching key figures, including the deposed de facto civilian ruler Aung San Suu Kyi, who is among those detained.

Myanmar’s generals staged the coup early Monday morning local time, just as the country’s newly elected Parliament was due to convene for its first session. The military, which ruled Myanmar for decades before allowing some measure of civilian-led democracy in recent years, alleged that there was fraud in the country’s November elections.

The coup is a major foreign policy crisis facing President Joe Biden just days into his tenure. Biden, who has pledged to promote democracy and human rights globally, has decried the takeover and said his administration is weighing imposing sanctions on the Asian country

State Department officials who confirmed the coup determination — a legal process that can take some time — said Tuesday that they are in touch with partner and allied nations about the situation in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.

The United States will work with these other countries “to support respect for democracy and the rule of law in Burma as well as to promote accountability for those responsible for overturning Burma’s democratic transition,” one official said.

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