The Myanmar military has taken control of the country’s government ahead of Parliament’s first session.
On Monday, February 2nd, armed military forces detained National League Party (NLP) party leaders in the middle of the night, including the State First Counsillor, Aung San Suu Kyi, and President U Win Myint, in a military coup d’état.
The coup was executed by former Vice-President and current de facto leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, who has declared a state of emergency based on allegations of election fraud.
Parliament was supposed to have its first session with its newly elected board of representatives after winning the November general election where the NLP secured 83 percent of parliament seats against the militarily-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.
The Myanmar Election commission have rejected any notion of election fraud, stating that the allegations bare no evidence.
One of the figures detained by General Hlaign is Counsillor Aung San Suu Kyi, who is considered by many to be the leader of the democratic movement in the country. She spent a total of 15 years under home detention and won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her non-violent efforts against the country’s brutal regime.
Recently, many have criticised her for not addressing the genocidal crackdown on the country’s Muslim minority, which saw hundreds of thousands flee in fear to neighbouring countries. As a result, many outspoken critics have called for her Nobel Prize to be revoked. She is currently under arrest without trial.
Counsillor Suu Kyi helped to lead the country’s aspiring democratic reform in 2011 following significant pressure by the international community. Despite this, military forces in Myanmar are not necessarily controlled by any political entity, meaning it can act in its own interests.
Human Rights Watch Deputy Director, Phil Robertson, described the allegations of fraudulent elections as “somewhat Trumpian,” but was also unclear as to why he believed the military decided to take over, arguing that they would not gain much more power than they already had.
Internationally, the military actions have been mostly condemned. The UN, the EU, and the US all issued statements against the coup. The White House’s State Department went as far as claiming that it “will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” while also threatening to re-impose sanctions that had been lifted since Myanmar became a democracy.
This is not the first time that Myanmar had election results forcefully annulled. In 1990, after an election with similar results, the military regime refused to step down and continued in power for the years to come.
Since the takeover, Internet and phone lines have been disrupted, as well as flights in and out of the country. Reports show Burmese people forming huge lines at ATMs and supermarkets to stock up on essentials, fearing the uncertainty of what comes next.