Aung San Suu Kyi detained as army grabs power in Myanmar
Myanmar’s military seized power in a bloodless coup on Monday, detaining democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and imposing a one-year state of emergency.
The intervention ended a decade of transition from outright military rule in Myanmar, with the generals justifying the power grab by alleging fraud in the November elections that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won in a landslide.
Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained in the capital Naypyidaw before dawn, party spokesman Myo Nyunt told AFP, just hours before parliament was meant to reconvene for the first time since the elections. Later, Myanmar state television announced the removal of 24 of Suu Kyi’s ministers, and 11 new appointments.
The military sealed off roads around the capital with armed troops, trucks and armoured personnel carriers. Military helicopters flew across the city.
The military declared, via its own television channel, a one-year state of emergency and announced that former general Myint Swe would be acting president for the next year.
It alleged “huge irregularities” in the November polls that the election commission had failed to address. “As the situation must be resolved according to the law, a state of emergency is declared,” the announcement said. The army later pledged to hold fresh elections after the year-long state of emergency.
Suu Kyi had issued a pre-emptive statement ahead of her detention calling on people “not to accept a coup”, according to a post on the official Facebook page of her party’s chairperson.
The military moved quickly to stifle dissent, severely restricting the internet and mobile phone communications across the country.
India expresses concern, China has muted reaction
India expressed deep concern at the developments in Myanmar, as the US and several other countries called for restoration of democracy.
“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,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement. “We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. We are monitoring the situation closely.”
The US was swift to react to the news, with secretary of state Antony Blinken calling for the release of Suu Kyi and thers detained by the military. “We call on Burmese military leaders to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8,” Blinken said in a statement.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the European Union, UK and Australia also condemned the coup.
China’s response, however, was more muted. “We hope that all sides...can appropriately handle their differences,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.