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Myanmar coup: US threatens sanctions over Aung San Suu Kyi detention

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President Joe Biden delivers remarks on health care, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Washington.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on health care, in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, in Washington.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Evan Vucci
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US President Joe Biden is threatening to slap new sanctions on Myanmar after a coup that saw the military arrest the civilian leaders of its government.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been a US democracy promotion project for decades, though there have been recent and serious concerns about its backsliding into authoritarianism.

Disappointment with former opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained by the military, has run high.

In a White House briefing Monday, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the statement from Biden was "a message to all countries in the region."

“The military’s seizure of power in Burma, the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian officials, and the declaration of a national state of emergency are a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy and the rule of law," Biden said in a written statement.

“In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election. For almost a decade, the people of Burma have been steadily working to establish elections, civilian governance, and the peaceful transfer of power. That progress should be respected.”

He noted that the US had removed sanctions on Burma after its transition to democracy but that it would not hesitate to restore them.

“The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action,” Biden said. “The United States will stand up for democracy wherever it is under attack.”

Psaki was also asked whether the White House had determined whether former president Donald Trump would continue to get intelligence briefings. "It is something that is under review, " Psaki said, but she added a determination has not been made on that matter.