Brussels (Brussels Morning) The Myanmar army detained democratically-elected State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, president Win Myint and prominent leaders of their National League for Democracy (NLD) party on Monday, before declaring a state of emergency and instituting military rule, Reuters reports.
The coup took place before the first session of the newly-elected parliament, a reaction to NLD having won 83% of the popular vote in the 8 November elections last year. The military had claimed the elections were fraudulent, refusing to accept the the national regulatory body’s insistence that no cases of widespread election fraud had occurred.
State of emergency
Military vehicles and patrols assumed positions in the country’s larger cities, while citizens flocked to markets to stock up on supplies. General Min Aung Hlaing assumed power on behalf of the military, declaring that the state of emergency would last for a year, when new democratic elections will be held.
The international community immediately condemned the coup as a slide from democracy back to a military junta rule, just six years after the first free elections were held in the country.
European Council President Charles Michel called on the military to release all detained in the coup immediately. “The outcome of the elections has to be respected and the democratic process needs to be restored,” Michel stated on Twitter.
High Representative and Commission Vice President Josep Borrell also issued a statement strongly condemning the coup. “The European Union calls for the immediate restoration of the legitimate civilian government in Myanmar, and the swift opening of parliament with the participation of all elected representatives, as foreseen by the constitution,” Borrell declared.
US State Secretary Antony Blinken also called for release of all government officials and civil society leaders. The UN, India, Australia, Malaysia, Japan and the United Kingdom all condemned the coup, while China called on all sides to adhere to the constitution and maintain stability.
The military claims that the coup is constitutional, citing a section of the army-written constitution that gives the military authority to seize power in cases when the country is in danger of dissolution or loss of sovereignty. The military maintains that the elections it deems fraudulent represent such a threat.