Military forces in Myanmar took over the country Monday and declared a state of emergency for one year after it detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials in the country’s democratically elected government.
The coup took place just before the scheduled beginning of a new session of parliament, according to the Washington Post. New members elected in November, in Myanmar’s second democratic election since transitioning from military rule, were set to be seated.
Chief ministers from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which won 396 of 476 seats in November, were detained by the military, alongside Suu Kyi herself and President Win Myint, party spokesman Myo Nyunt told The Post. “I expect that soldiers will arrive for me soon,” he reportedly said.
Military officials announced in a television broadcast that the state of emergency had been declared and power would be assumed by commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing. Former General Myint Swe became president. (RELATED: We Don’t Do Business With These Human Rights Violators — But We Still Do Billions In Business With China)
A number of other activists, lawmakers, and leaders of other parties were reportedly detained as the coup was carried out as well. State run television and radio outlets said they were unable to broadcast “due to communication problems” and internet connectivity in the country has fallen below normal levels.
Military forces alleged widespread voter fraud in November’s election after the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won only 33 seats. Myanmar’s election authority reportedly found no evidence to support the claims of fraud. (RELATED: 27,000 Children Stranded In Refugee Camps ‘At Risk Of Radicalization’ By ISIS, UN Official Says)
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement “The United States is alarmed by reports that the Burmese military has taken steps to undermine the country’s democratic transition.”
“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 on November 8,” said Secretary of State Tony Blinken in a statement. “The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development.”
Myanmar operated under military rule for decades before a transition to democracy began in 2010, culminating in the country’s first democratic elections in 2015. NLD took power in those elections, but Suu Kyi has drawn international criticism since then for defending Myanmar against charges of genocide against Rohingya Muslims.