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Biden demands Myanmar military cede power, orders sanctions review

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WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 01: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki talks to reporters during her daily news briefing at the White House February 01, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki commented on President Joe Biden’s upcoming meeting with Senate Republicans, the government’s response to the military coup in Burma and coronavirus relief legislation, among other topics. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP

US President Joe Biden called Monday on Myanmar’s military to relinquish power immediately and ordered a review to consider reimposing sanctions lifted during the nation’s transition to democracy.

“The international community should come together in one voice to press the Burmese military to immediately relinquish the power they have seized,” Biden said in a statement.

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“The United States removed sanctions on Burma over the past decade based on progress toward democracy,” he said, using Myanmar’s former name.

“The reversal of that progress will necessitate an immediate review of our sanction laws and authorities, followed by appropriate action.”

“The United States will stand up for democracy wherever it is under attack.”

Myanmar’s transition had initially been seen as a major success story of the administration of former President Barack Obama, in which Biden served as vice president, with the strategically placed country seen as moving toward democracy and away from China’s orbit.

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But Myanmar’s once iconic democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi drew Western criticism over her reticence to condemn mass killings of Rohingya Muslims.

On Monday, the military arrested her and other politicians after her party scored another sweeping election victory.

“The United States is taking note of those who stand with the people of Burma in this difficult hour,” Biden said, in what was likely a veiled reference to China

“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.”

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