Myanmar’s military has terminated the country’s short-lived experience with democracy by removing democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and declaring a one-year state of emergency.
Members of the military government justified Monday’s coup by alleging widespread voter fraud in a November general election that was won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, the party that in 2015 had established the first civilian government in half a century.
The coup sparked global condemnation, with the UN calling it a serious blow to democratic reforms in the country.
Al Jazeera takes a look at the coup and what it means for Myanmar.
The generals made their move hours before Parliament had been due to sit for the first time since the NLD’s landslide win in a November 8 election viewed as a referendum on Aung San Suu Kyi’s fledgeling democratic rule.
Meanwhile, Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD heavyweights were detained in early morning raids.
Phone and internet connections in the capital, Naypyidaw, and the main commercial centre Yangon were disrupted and state television went off the air.
Myanmar’s military has seized power and declared a state of emergency for one year following days of escalating tension over the result of November’s parliamentary elections 👇 pic.twitter.com/eFD0ws5dku
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) February 1, 2021
Who is in charge?
An announcement on military-owned Myawaddy TV said the military would take control of the country for one year.
It said the seizure was necessary because the government had not acted on the military’s claims of fraud in November’s polls and because it allowed the election to go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The NLD won more than 80 percent of the vote – increasing its support from 2015.
Summarising a meeting of the new military government, the army said military chief General Min Aung Hlaing had pledged a “genuine discipline-flourishing multiparty democratic system”.
He promised a free and fair election and a handover of power to the winning party, it said, without giving a timeframe.
Later on Monday, the military removed 24 ministers and named 11 replacements to oversee portfolios such as finance, defence, foreign affairs and interior.
Aung San Suu Kyi is an immensely popular figure in Myanmar for her opposition to the military, which had seized power in a 1962 coup and stamped out all dissent for decades. The 75-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate spent the best part of two decades under house arrest during the previous military rule – but her international reputation was severely damaged after she failed to stop the bloody crackdown and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in 2017.
How did the international community react?
The UN led condemnation of the coup and called for the release of detainees and restoration of democracy in comments largely echoed by Australia, Britain, the European Union, India, Japan and the United States.
“The military must reverse these actions immediately,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
China, which wields major influence on Myanmar, called on all sides to respect the constitution and uphold stability in a statement which “noted” events rather than expressly condemning them.
Bangladesh, which is sheltering around one million Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Myanmar, called for “peace and stability” and said it hoped a process to repatriate the refugees could move forward. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh also condemned the takeover.