Myanmar Military Takes Power, Detains Leader Aung San Suu Kyi In Coup

On Monday, Myanmar’s military conducted a coup against the country’s democratically elected government, as reported by the Associated Press. During early morning raids, leaders of the ruling National League for Democracy party — which include Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi — were detained.

According to a statement released on a military-owned television station, power in Myanmar will be held by Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing with a state of emergency imposed for one year. The military claimed the actions were taken in response to a failure by the National League for Democracy in addressing election fraud. The coup derails the progress the country, also known as Burma, had made toward democracy in recent years after five decades of military rule.

In the November 8 elections, the National League for Democracy won 396 out of 476 seats up for actual election in the lower and upper houses of Parliament, while the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party had a historically poor showing. Monday was supposed to mark the beginning of the country’s new parliamentary session, the first since the election.

After the detention of Suu Kyi and other National League for Democracy leaders, television signals were cut across the country, while phone and internet connections in the capital of Naypyitaw and Yangon — Myanmar’s most populated city — were cut. Passenger flights were also grounded. As news of the coup spread throughout the country, lines began to form at ATMs as people sought to withdraw their cash, which was made more difficult due to the poor internet connection.

Hours after the coup, Myanmar’s military announced that a free and fair election will be held and they will hand power to the victorious party, as reported by Al Jazeera. In an article on one of its official websites following a meeting of the new junta, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing pledged to conduct “the genuine discipline-flourishing multiparty democratic system” fairly. No timeframe for the new election was announced.

National League for Democracy spokesman Myo Nyunt confirmed that Suu Kyi — along with the president, members of the party’s Central Executive Committee, many of its lawmakers and other senior leaders — had been taken into custody. In a statement on one of the party’s Facebook pages, they described the military’s actions as unjustified and in direct opposition to the constitution and will of voters. The statement, which was not credited to a specific member of the party, called on citizens to oppose the coup and any efforts made to return the country to a military dictatorship.

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