Myanmar’s army chief has taken control of the country from the civilian government, an army TV station said after the civilian leader
Aung San Suu Kyi
and other members of his party were arrested in a raid Monday morning.
This coup represents a severe blow in the country’s transition from military rule to democracy, which began about a decade ago. The United States and human rights groups called on the military to respect democratic norms.
Tensions have been rising for several days following the results of the November election, which was won by Ms. Suu Kyi’s party. The military-backed opposition party called for the election, which was only the second truly contested and democratic vote since the end of military rule in this Southeast Asian country, to be rigged. Myanmar’s electoral commission rejected these demands.
Aung San Suu Kyi, above, Myanmar’s civilian leader, was captured by the military, which declared that power had been transferred to army chief Min Aung Hlaing, below.
Aung Shine Oo/Presse Associée
Parliament was scheduled to meet on Monday for the first time since the election.
The announcement on military television indicated that the country’s Union Election Commission had failed to respond adequately to allegations of voter fraud and had declared a one-year state of emergency necessary to restore order and stability. Power was transferred to army chief Min Aung Hlaing, it is said. The army had already challenged the election process, claiming that false names had appeared on the voter lists.
“The United States is alarmed by reports that the Burmese military has taken steps to undermine the country’s transition to democracy,” said a White House spokesman.
spoke about developments in Myanmar, also known as Burma. “The United States opposes any attempt to alter the results of the recent elections or impede Myanmar’s transition to democracy, and will take action against those responsible if these measures are not reversed,” he said.
President Biden has been briefed on the situation, the spokeswoman said. Myanmar’s military could not be reached for comment.
A spokesman for Ms. Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, said that Ms. Suu Kyi, the president of
Win the ball.
and other senior party officials were arrested by the military shortly after 4 a.m. local time on Monday.
Ms. Suu Kyi, the daughter of Myanmar’s independence hero, spent years under house arrest during the military regime and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for democracy. After the military loosened its grip, the United States and other foreign governments began to lift long-standing sanctions against the country. Ms. Suu Kyi’s party came to power in the historic 2015 elections. Her official title was state councilor, but in fact she was the leader of the Southeast Asian country.
Yet the military remained strong. The constitution gives it control over the ministries of defense and interior. Soldiers also get a quarter of the seats in parliament, which is enough to veto constitutional changes. Ms. Suu Kyi’s advisers have long said that she is on a thin line and that she must be careful not to give full power to the generals.
Military vehicles at the entrance to the Myanmar State Radio and Television office in Yangon on Monday.
During her first term in office, Myanmar and Ms. Suu Kyi’s government were plagued by serious problems. Once hailed as a human rights pioneer, the leader came under wide international criticism for her handling of genocide allegations against Myanmar after a brutal military operation in 2017 drove 700,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim minority from the country. Ms. Suu Kyi repeated the military’s arguments that the action was a legitimate security operation.
Monday’s events threw a country into political turmoil whose transition from a military state, though slow and arduous, was seen as a victory for democracy. Telephone and Internet lines were cut off in many parts of the country.
Historian Tant Myint-U, who has written about Myanmar including the book “The Hidden History of Burma,” said the country was “on the brink of collapse.”
“It’s a country with dozens of armies at war, hundreds of militias, a $70 billion illegal drug industry. Tens of millions of people have been plunged into poverty by the economic downturn over the past year, and now it’s the breakdown of an agreement between the military and the National League for Democracy, two of Myanmar’s main political forces,” he said. “I think the outside world has often failed to understand how fragile Myanmar’s transition to democracy is.”
Human Rights Watch is calling on Myanmar’s military to release Ms. Suu Kyi and others it believes are being unlawfully detained. “The military’s actions show a total disregard for the democratic elections in November and the right of the people of Myanmar to choose their own government,” she said.
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Frequently asked questions
Is Myanmar a military dictatorship?
After a brief Japanese occupation, Myanmar was recaptured by the Allies and became independent in 1948. After a coup in 1962, it became a military dictatorship led by the Socialist Program Party of Burma.
Who controls Myanmar’s military?
Army of Myanmar – Wikipedia
Which government came to power in Myanmar?
On January 4, 1948, Burma gained independence from Britain and became a democracy based on a parliamentary system. In late 1946, Aung San became vice president of Burma’s Executive Council, a government of current affairs.
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