Myanmar’s military staged a coup and arrested the country’s top leaders following an election that powerful military leaders disputed, the Associated Press reports.
The military detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate, and other senior officials.
The military announced that Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing would control the country for one year and defended the detentions by arguing that the government had not responded to the military’s claims of fraud in the election, in which Suu Kyi’s party overwhelmingly won a majority of Parliament.
The military cited a section of the constitution that it drafted that states the military can take control in times of national emergency.
The leaders were detained on the day that parliament was set to begin its new session.
Myanmar falls back on old ways:
Myanmar was controlled by the military for decades but appeared to be evolving in recent years.
Suu Kyi, who lived under house arrest for years as she pushed for real democracy in the country, ultimately became the leader of the National League for Democracy, which won control of the government in 2015.
Suu Kyi has shared power with the military and even defended its crackdown on Rohingya Muslims even as the military’s assault was labeled by international observers as a genocide.
But the military-backed party suffered an “embarrassingly poor” turnout in the election, which may have caused a deepening rift.
US demands release:
Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed “grave concern and alarm” over the coup.
“We call on Burmese military leaders to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections,” he said in a statement.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the coup a “serious blow to democratic reforms” and the UN further raised alarms that journalists and activists have been arrested as well.