MYANMAR 'COUP': SUU KYI DETAINED | Daily News

MYANMAR 'COUP': SUU KYI DETAINED

lDeclares one-year State of Emergency
lMyanmar’s President, several regional ministers also detained
lMilitary alleges fraud in November’s elections
lArmy pledges new elections, power transfer
Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and General Min Aung Hlaing
Aung San Suu Kyi (L) and General Min Aung Hlaing

MYANMAR: Myanmar's military staged a coup on Monday, detaining de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and declaring it had taken control of the country for one year under a State of Emergency.

The intervention came after weeks of rising tensions between the military, which ruled the country for nearly five decades, and the civilian government over allegations of fraud in November's elections.

The military last week signalled it could seize power to settle its claims of irregularities in the polls, which Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won easily.

Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained in the capital Naypyidaw before dawn on Monday, NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt told AFP, just hours before Parliament was meant to resume for the first time since the elections.

"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," he said.

The military then declared, via its own television channel, a one-year State of Emergency.

In Yangon, the former capital that remains Myanmar's commercial hub, troops seized the city hall, according to an AFP journalist.

People walk next to Shwedagon Pagoda on an empty road in Yangon, Myanmar following yesterday's military coup. - AFP

Elsewhere, the Chief Minister of Karen state and several other regional ministers were also held, according to party sources, on the very day when the new Parliament was to hold its first session.

NetBlocks, a non-governmental organisation that tracks internet shutdowns, reported severe disruptions to web connections.

Phone numbers in the capital Naypyidaw were also seemingly unreachable.

Myanmar's polls in November were only the second democratic elections the country had seen since it emerged from the 49-year grip of military rule in 2011.

But the military has for weeks complained the polls were riddled with irregularities, and claimed to have uncovered over 10 million instances of voter fraud.

It has demanded the Government-run Election Commission release voter lists for cross-checking -- which the Commission has not done.

Myanmar lawmakers were to gather Monday in the capital Naypyitaw for the first session of Parliament since last year’s election.

The 75-year-old Suu Kyi’s party captured 396 out of 476 seats in the combined lower and upper houses of Parliament in the November polls, but the military holds 25% of the total seats under the 2008 military-drafted constitution and several key ministerial positions are also reserved for military appointees.

Last week, Military Chief General Min Aung Hlaing -- arguably the country's most powerful individual -- said the country's 2008 Constitution could be "revoked" under certain circumstances.

Myanmar has seen two previous coups since independence from Britain in 1948, one in 1962 and one in 1988.

Meanwhile, Myanmar's Army said Monday it will hold fresh elections and hand power to the winning party once a year-long state of emergency has elapsed, hours after carrying out a coup.

“We will perform real multi-party democracy... with complete balance and fairness,” a statement on the army's official Facebook page said.

The statement was issued hours after the army took power, detaining de facto leader Suu Kyi, declaring a state of emergency and appointing ex-general Myint Swe as acting president. It said that power will be transferred to the winning party after “holding a free and fair general election and the emergency provisions period is complete.”

Suu Kyi -- a former democracy icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner whose image internationally has been in tatters over her handling of the Muslim Rohingya crisis -- remains a deeply popular figure. She spent 20 years off and on under house arrest for her role as an opposition leader, before she was released by the military in 2010.

- AFP