Myanmar leader Suu Kyi, others detained; Army takes control
The military took control over Myanmar on Monday, soon after it detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of the governing party, the National League for Democracy (NLD). A year-long emergency has also been declared in the nation. NLD spokesperson confirmed that the leaders have been "taken" while urging citizens not to respond rashly. Here's what went down.
NLD won elections with a massive majority in November but the country's powerful military leveled allegations of fraud, claiming that it unearthed over 10 million cases of cheating. Election Commission was also asked to release voter lists. The stand-off escalated last week when General Min Aung Hlaing, the chief of the military, said that the "country's 2008 constitution could be revoked under certain circumstances."
Myo Nyunt, the spokesperson for NLD, told Reuters that besides Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior leaders were also detained. Another lawmaker revealed that Han Thar Myint, a member of the party's central executive committee, got the same treatment. "I want to tell our people not to respond rashly and I want them to act according to the law," said Nyunt.
The Constitution reserves 25% of seats in the Parliament and three key ministries in Suu Kyi's administration for the military. Just yesterday, it had claimed that Aung Hlaing's statement about "repealing the constitution" was misinterpreted. "We heard they were taken by the military...With the situation we see happening now, we have to assume that the military is staging a coup," Nyunt told AFP.
Panic and uncertainty, naturally, took over Myanmar on Monday, with communication to capital Naypyitaw becoming difficult. The Parliament's session was due to start today. Soldiers were deployed outside the city hall in the main city of Yangon; internet services were also disrupted. Separately, state-run Myanmar Radio and Television informed it couldn't broadcast regular programs of MRTV and Myanmar Radio due to "communication difficulties."
A Nobel Peace Prize winner, Suu Kyi came to power in 2015 after a historic election win, that was preceded by decades of house arrest of leaders. However, her international stature had dampened when thousands of Rohingya refugees fled from the Rakhine state in 2017 due to the atrocities conducted by the military. The Rohingya crisis notwithstanding, the 75-year-old remains popular in the nation.
Tellingly, the crisis in Myanmar invited international reactions, with the Australian government urging the military to release civilian leaders. "We call on the military to resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and to release immediately all civilian leaders and others who have been detained unlawfully," Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payn said. Meanwhile, White House said US President Joe Biden has been briefed.
"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 Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.