NAYPYITAW, Myanmar: Military has taken control of the country for one year, while reports said many of the country’s senior politicians including Aung San Suu Kyi had been detained.
A presenter on military-owned Myawaddy TV announced the takeover and cited a section of the military-drafted constitution that allows the military to take control in times of national emergency. He said the reason for takeover was in part due to the government’s failure to act on the military’s claims of voter fraud in last November’s election and its failure to postpone the election because of the coronavirus crisis.
The announcement and the declaration of a state of emergency follows days of concern about the threat of a military coup — and military denials that it would stage one — and came on the morning the country’s new Parliament session was to begin, the AP has reported. In the November elections, Suu Kyi’s party captured 396 out of 476 seats in the combined lower and upper houses of parliament. The state Union Election Commission has confirmed that result.
But the military, since shortly after the elections, has claimed there were millions of irregularities in voter lists in 314 townships that could have let voters cast multiple ballots or commit other “voting malpractice”.“But they haven’t really shown any proof of that,” Jolliffe said.
The election commission rejected the claims last week, stating there was no evidence to support them. The military takeover came on what was to be the first day of the new parliament following the elections.
Instead, Suu Kyi and other lawmakers, who would have been sworn into office, were reportedly detained.
A later announcement on Myawaddy TV said the military would hold an election after the one-year emergency ends and would turn over power to the winner.
Telecommunications came to a near halt in the morning and early afternoon. In the capital, internet and phone access appeared to be blocked. Many people elsewhere in the country who could still access the internet found their social media accounts had been temporarily suspended.
Barbed wire road blocks were set up across Yangon, the largest city, and military units began to appear outside government buildings such as City Hall.
Residents flocked to ATMs and food vendors, while some shops and homes removed the symbols of Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, that typically adorn the streets and walls of the city.
The takeover is a sharp reversal of the partial yet significant progress toward democracy Myanmar made in recent years following five decades of military rule and international isolation that began in 1962. It would also be shocking fall from power for Suu Kyi, who led the democracy struggle despite years under house arrest and and won a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy released a statement on the Facebook page of its party head saying the military’s actions were unjustified and went against the constitution and the will of voters. The statement urged people to oppose Monday’s “coup” and any return to “military dictatorship.”
It was not possible to confirm who posted the message as NLD members were not answering phone calls. The military’s actions were already receiving widespread international condemnation.
New US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken issued a statement expressing “grave concern and alarm” over the reported detentions.