On Monday, Myanmar military TV reported that the military had taken over the country for a year, while reports said that many of the country’s senior politicians, including Aung San Suu Kyi, had been arrested.
The announcement was made by a presenter on military-owned Myawaddy TV and cited a section of the military-drafted constitution enabling the military to take control in times of national emergency. He said the reason for the takeover was partly due to the failure of the government to act on the military’s claims of voting fraud in the election last November and its failure to postpone the election due to the coronavirus crisis.
The first signs that plans to seize power were in motion were the arrest of politicians and cuts in communication services on Monday. Phone and internet access to Naypyitaw was lost and it was not possible to reach Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy Party.
Its report stated that members of the Central Executive Committee of the party, lawmakers, and members of the regional Cabinet were also taken into custody.
Statements were issued by the U.S., Australia, and others expressing concerns and urging the army of Myanmar to respect the rule of law.
In a Washington statement, White House spokesman Jen Psaki said, “The U.S. is alarmed by reports that the Burmese military has taken steps to undermine the democratic transition of the country, including the arrest in Burma of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian officials,” She said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the reported developments.
The 75-year-old Suu Kyi is by far the most dominant politician in the country, and after leading a decades-long nonviolent fight against military rule, he became the country’s leader.
Suu Kyi’s party captured 396 of 476 seats in the combined lower and upper houses of Parliament in the November polls, but the military holds 25 percent of the total seats under the 2008 military-drafted constitution, and several key ministerial positions are also reserved for military appointees.
The military raised political tension last Tuesday in the midst of the bickering over the allegations, as a spokesman at his weekly news conference, responding to a reporter’s question, declined to rule out the possibility of a coup. Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun elaborated by saying that the military would “follow the constitutional laws.”
However, on Saturday, the army denied that it had threatened a coup, accusing unnamed organisations and media of misrepresenting its position and taking out of context the words of the general.
It repeated its denial on Sunday, this time accusing unspecified foreign embassies of misinterpreting the position of the military and calling on them not to make unjustified assumptions about the situation.