Myanmar’s military seized power on Monday in a coup against the democratically elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was detained along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in early morning raids.
A video address broadcast on military-owned television said power had been handed to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. The emergency will remain in force for a year, it said.
Suu Kyi called on the public not to accept the coup and urged them to protest, the NLD said in a statement.
“The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship,” read the statement which carried Suu Kyi’s name. “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.”
Myanmar’s Parliament, where the military is given a quarter of seats and wields more power through its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), was due to open in the country’s capital Naypyidaw from Monday.
Phone lines to the capital Naypyitaw and the main commercial center of Yangon were not reachable, and state TV went off air hours before parliament had been due to sit for the first time since the NLD’s landslide election win in November, viewed as a referendum on Suu Kyi’s fledgling democratic government.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the developments were a “serious blow to democratic reforms” and urged all leaders to refrain from violence and respect human rights, a UN spokesman said.
“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 on November 8,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, 75, came to power after a 2015 election win that followed decades of house arrest in a struggle for democracy with Myanmar’s junta that turned her into an international icon.