Myanmar’s military has staged a coup and detains democratically elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in early morning raids.
The army’s move comes after it alleged the elected government of “election fraud”. As part of the coup power was handed over to military chief Min Aung Hlaing. The military has also imposed a state of emergency for one year, according to a statement on a military-owned television station.
The parliament was due to sit for the first time since the NLD’s landslide win in a Nov. 8 election viewed as a referendum on Suu Kyi’s fledgling democratic government. However, just hours before it the generals made their move and seized power.
Chaos ensued for hours as phone lines to the capital Naypyitaw and the main commercial centre of Yangon went out of reach, and state TV went off air. People rushed to markets in Yangon to stock up on food and supplies while others lined up at ATMs to withdraw cash.
Residents said soldiers took up positions at city hall in Yangon and mobile internet data and phone services in the NLD stronghold were disrupted. Internet connectivity also had fallen dramatically, monitoring service NetBlocks pointed out.
Suu Kyi, Myanmar President Win Myint and other NLD leaders had been “taken” in the early hours of the morning, NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt said.
“I want to tell our people not to respond rashly and I want them to act according to the law,” he said, adding that he expected to be arrested himself.
The detentions came after days of escalating tension between the civilian government and the military that stirred fears of a coup in the aftermath of the election.
Suu Kyi’s party won 83% of the vote in only the second election since a military junta agreed to share power in 2011.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the detention of Suu Kyi and other political leaders and “urges the military leadership to respect the will of the people of Myanmar,” a UN spokesman said.