Myanmar’s military deposed the civilian government of the Southeast Asian nation early Monday, detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior politicians in predawn raids and announcing on army-owned television that it plans to control the country for a year. The military on Saturday had denied speculation it was planing a coup.
The military said in its statement that it is invoking part of the constitution, written by the military in 2008, that allows for military control in times of national emergency, one of the emergencies cited being the failure of the civilian government to take more seriously the military’s claims of voter fraud in last November’s election. Myanmar’s national election commission said there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and the military has provided no proof for its allegations.
Kuu Ky’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won the November election in a landslide, capturing 396 of 476 seats in both chambers of Parliament, though the 2008 constitution reserves 25 percent of seats in Parliament and three key Cabinet ministries for members of the military. The new Parliament was set to meet for the first time on Monday.
The U.S., United Nations, Australia, and other nations condemned the military takeover. “The United States is alarmed by reports that the Burmese military has taken steps to undermine the country’s democratic transition,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Sunday night, using Myanmar’s former name. “The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed.” President Biden has been briefed on the situation, Psaki said. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also issued a statement saying Washington stands with the people of Myanmar and their “aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development.”
TV, phone service, and internet were spotty or down in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw, and the main financial center, Yangon, on Monday, and solders were seen around Yangon’s city hall and internet and phone service providers, Reuters said. An NLD spokesman, Myo Nyunt, told several Western news organizations that Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and other senior party leaders had been taken at gunpoint at about 4 a.m., and he predicted he would also be detained soon. Suu Kyi has indirectly governed Myanmar since the military allowed free election in 2015, after five decades of military rule.