On the early hours of Monday, the Myanmar Army staged a coup and declared it had taken control of the country for one year under a state of emergency.
According to the reports, the Myanmar military’s intervention came after weeks of continued friction between the country’s military, which ruled the country for over five decades, and the civilian government over allegations of irregularities in November’s elections.
The Myanmar military has now detained the country’s top political leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of Myanmar’s ruling party amidst rising tensions over a recent election. Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s 75-year-old state counselor, President Win Myint, and other members of the National League of Democracy were arrested at their residences in the capital Naypyidaw early on Monday.
Following their arrests, the military then declared a one-year state of emergency. The troops seized the city hall in Yangon, the former capital that is Myanmar’s commercial hub.
Army takes control amidst rising tensions over alleged election irregularities
Earlier this week, the Myanmar Army had suggested they were ready to take control of the country after pointing out the alleged election fraud in the November 8 election. In the elections, the incumbent NLD had won the election by a landslide, ensuring Aung San Suu Kyi a second five-year term in office.
The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party had suffered a massive defeat at the pro-democratic party’s hands. Incidentally, the country’s new parliament was set to hold its first session on Monday.
For nearly five decades, from 1962 to 2011, Myanmar was ruled by the military. Post-2010, democracy started returning slowly in Myanmar under a constitution that had to reserve three important ministries and 25% of seats in the parliament for army appointees.
The November polls were only the second democratic elections the country had seen since it emerged from the 49-year military rule grip in 2011. The NLD took power in 2016 in a civilian government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi.
US, Australia express concerns
The coup by the Myanmar Army has triggered a quick response from the United States and Australia, who demanded the immediate release of detained NLD leaders and the restoration of democracy.
“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,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
Similarly, Australia also expressed its concern saying that the military was “once again seeking to seize control” of the country and asked them to respect the rule of law.