Myanmar’s military has taken power and declared a state of emergency after detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior government officials in a series of early morning raids that followed days of escalating tension over the outcome of the November election, which the ruling party won by a landslide.
A video address broadcast on military-owned television said power had been handed to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. The emergency will remain in force for a year, it said.
Myo Nyunt, the spokesman for the governing National League for Democracy (NLD) said earlier on Monday, that Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other leaders had been “taken” in the early hours of the morning.
Later on Monday, the NLD said Aung San Suu Kyi called on the public not to accept the coup and to protest.
“The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship,” the NLD said in a statement which carried leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s name. “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.”
Myanmar’s Parliament, where the military is given a quarter of seats and wields more power through its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), was due to open in the country’s capital Naypyidaw from Monday.
Politicians from states and regions, as well as prominent political activists were also detained.
Mobile internet data connections and some phone services have been disrupted in major cities, while the state broadcaster MRTV says it is having technical issues and is off air.
Communications with capital, Nay Pyi Taw were down. In the country’s largest city and former capital Yangon, phone lines and internet connectivity appear to be limited, with many providers cutting their services.
People have been seen lining up at ATM’s in Yangon amid expectations of a cash crunch in the coming days.
Banks have temporarily halted all financial services, according to the Myanmar Banks Association.
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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the developments were a “serious blow to democratic reforms” and urged all leaders to refrain from violence and respect human rights, a UN spokesman said.
“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,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The NLD won 83% of available seats in the 8 November election in what many saw as a referendum on Ms Suu Kyi’s civilian government.
It was just the second election since the end of military rule in 2011.
But the military has disputed the result, filing complaints at the Supreme Court against the president and the chair of the electoral commission.
Fears of a coup rose after the military recently threatened to “take action” over alleged fraud. The election commission has rejected the allegations.