Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the governing party were detained in a series of early morning raids, the spokesman for the governing National League for Democracy said on Monday.
The detention of senior leaders was a result of days of escalating tension between her civilian government and the country’s military fulled talk of a coup reported Reuters.
— Hunter Marston (@hmarston4) January 31, 2021
Spokesman Myo Nyunt told Reuters news agency that Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other leaders had been “taken” in the early hours of the morning.
“I want to tell our people not to respond rashly and I want them to act according to the law,” he said.
Myo Nyunt later told AFP news agency that given the situation, “we have to assume that the military is staging a coup.”
In Myanmar, the military has 25% of seats in parliament and control three key ministries in Suu Kyi’s administration through its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
There are communication issues as state TV and Radio programs have been taken off air.
“It does feel like this is the beginning of a military takeover,” Ali Fowle told Al Jazeera from Yangon, noting that politicians from states and regions, as well as prominent political activists, had also been detained. Mobile and phone networks were seeing disruption, while state media was also reported to be off-air.
Military Takeover over Allegations of Election Fraud
Suu Kyi’s party, NLD won elections in November by a landslide, but the military has been waging a months-long campaign to discredit the outcome with no firm evidence of wrongdoing.
Last week, the situation escalated when military leader Min Aung Hlaing threatened to abolish the constitution. Two days later, the military backtracked saying the media had taken Min Aung Hlaing’s comments out of context.
It's a Monday & normally, roads would be busy in #Yangon #Myanmar now but it's empty as many afraid to go outside. But many seen at ATMs withdrawing cash as country is now under #military coup #Myanmarcoup (pics sent to me from Myanmar) pic.twitter.com/k3ktipDIe5
— May Wong (@MayWongCNA) February 1, 2021
Amid the uncertainty, people in Yangon, the country’s biggest city and commercial capital, had begun flying the NLD’s red flag from their balconies in solidarity with the governing party, while banners had also been erected in the streets declaring support for the elected government.
The last week has also been marked by rival protests in support of the NLD and the military.
Political Background of Myanmar
Since independence from imperial Britain Myanmar has been led by the military for decades before it began a transition to democracy in 2008.
The 75-year-old Suu Kyi, an international icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner came to power after a 2015 landslide election win that followed decades of house arrest in a struggle for democracy.
Although her international reputation was badly damaged after hundreds of Rohingya Muslims were killed in army operations in a massive ethnic cleansing drive and thousands fled from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state in 2017.
Today History threw another lesson back at us through #AungSanSuuKyi.
You can’t convince a violent ethno-nationalist state to become benign.
You can’t change a rotten system from within.
You fight fascists, always.
Not negotiate a power sharing agreement.
— Suchitra Vijayan (@suchitrav) February 1, 2021
This is a developing story with inputs from PTI and Reuters