Military takes over Myanmar, Suu Kyi detained (2nd Ld)

Yangon, Feb 1 (IANS) The Myanmar military staged a coup on Monday and seized control of the country after detaining de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other top leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, following escalated tensions between the government and the army that erupted due to results of the November 2020 polls.

The state power will now be handed over to Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Min Aung Hlaing because of “election fraud”, according to a declaration signed by First Vice President U Myint Swe, who is currently serving as the Acting President.

According to the declaration, which was first announced on the military-owned Myawady TV, state of emergency has been declared in the South Asian country for a period of one year.

“The President shall declare the transferring of legislative, executive and judicial powers of the Union to the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Services to enable him to carry out necessary measures to speedily restore its original situation in the Union,” the Section 418 (a) of the Constitution said.

The legislative functions of all Parliaments and leading bodies will be suspended from the day of the declaration, it added.

Regarding the detentions, Myo Nyunt, spokesperson of the NLD, told Xinhua: “I received internal reports about our State Counsellor and President (U Win Myint) being taken by the military. As far as I was informed, Shan State’s Planning and Finance Minister U Soe Nyunt Lwin, Kayah state’s NLD chairman Thaung Htay and some NLD representatives of the Ayeyarwady region’s Parliament have been detained.

“Two members of the Central Executive Committee of the party were taken and I am also waiting to be detained as I was informed by our members that my turn will come shortly.”

According to a BBC news report citing family members, soldiers also visited the homes of Chief Ministers in several regions and took them away.

Meanwhile, telecommunications in capital city of Nay Pyi Taw and some other regions and states had also been cut off.

In the largest city of Yangon, the city hall building has been seized by the military, and army personnel could be seen sitting inside the gate holding guns.

The state-run Radio and Television (MRTV) said on its social media that it has also stopped operations.

The army said that there was massive voting fraud in the November 8, 2020, parliamentary elections, the second since 2011 when the military rule ended in the country, and demanded postponement of new parliamentary sessions.

The NLD won 83 per cent of the available seats in Parliament, enough to form a government.

The military had also filed complaints at the Supreme Court against the President and the Chair of the Electoral Commission.

But the Election Commission last week dismissed the allegations.

Earlier this week, the military had warned that it will take action if the complaints about “election fraud” were not addressed. It had also hinted the possibility of a coup.

Reacting to the development, India on Monday expressed “deep concern” and urged the neighbouring country to uphold the rule of law and the democratic process.

A statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi said: “India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar.”

Condemning the coup, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the release of all government officials and civil society leaders and said that Washington “stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately”.

Australialian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said “we call on the military to respect the rule of law, to resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and to release immediately all civilian leaders and other who have been detained unlawfully”.

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