Myanmar returns to military dictatorship ahead of new Parliament session

The military put State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and several civilian leaders of the National League of Democracy (NLD) under detention
 Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu KyiTwitter

A military-run television channel announced on Monday that the military declared a state emergency for one year in Myanmar. Reports suggest that Myanmar military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing has taken over the reins following a military coup.

The coup comes hours after the military put State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and several civilian leaders of the National League of Democracy (NLD) under detention. The coup took place before the new Parliament session was to begin.

“I received reports that the military has taken State Counsellor Suu Kyi and President Myint. As far as I was informed, Shan State’s Planning and Finance Minister U Soe Nyunt Lwin, Kayah State’s NLD Chairman Thaung Htay and some NLD representatives of the Ayeyarwady region’s parliament have been detained,” NLD spokesperson Myo Nyunt told an international news agency. He added that two members of the NLD’s Central Executive Committee are detained and, believe that he is likely to be detained.

Reportedly, telephones and internet services are suspended in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw and other areas. Reports suggest that Myanmar’s military is under the belief that widespread voter fraud took place during the country’s November 8 election and mooted a chance of a military coup. Although the military denied reports of staging a coup, it turned to be false.

Meanwhile, Suu Kyi has urged the Burmese people to resist the military coup. The NLD said that Suu Kyi in an official statement urged Burmese people to accept the coup nor return to military dictatorship.

News of the military coup has led to widespread condemnation from across the world. The United States condemned the coup and issued a stern warning to Myanmar military that it will take action if they don’t back down. US Secretary of State Anthony Bilken has asked the Myanmar military to release all detained leaders.

India also condemned the coup and expressed “deep concern”. The Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said it was closely following the situation in Myanmar, “We have noted the development in Myanmar with deep concern. India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar. We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld,” the MEA said in a statement.

Australia also joined other countries in condemning the coup. “We call on the military to respect the rule of law, to resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and to release immediately all civilian leaders and others who have been detained unlawfully,” Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed grave concern over the coup. He urged the military to respect the will of the Burmese people. “Adhere to democratic norms, with any differences to be resolved through peaceful dialogue,” Guterres said in a statement.

Myanmar has a history of military dictatorships. The country was under various military dictatorships from 1962 to 2011. In 1990, the country held a multiparty election which Suu Kyi won by a landslide. However, the military did not recognise the victory and put Suu Kyi under house arrest till 2011.

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