Aung San Suu Kyi’s party post call for protests, Myanmar military seizes power

  Military was taking 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  

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NAYPYITAW, Myanmar: Myanmar military television said Monday that the military was taking 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 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.

“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,” he wrote, using Myanmar’s former name. “The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development.”

The office of the UN secretary-general was also among those to issue a statement condemning the developments as a “serious blow to democratic reforms.”

The detention of the politicians and cuts in television signals and communication services on Monday were the first signs that plans to seize power were in motion. Phone and Internet access to Naypyitaw was lost and Suu Kyi’s party could not be reached. Phone service in other parts of the country was also reported down, though people were still able to use the Internet in many areas.

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