Activities across the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar have been brought to a halt after the country’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.
The army said it had carried out the detentions in response to “election fraud”, handing power to military chief General Min Aung Hlaing and imposing a state of emergency for one year.
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 Nov. 8 election viewed as a referendum on Suu Kyi’s fledgling democratic rule.
Phone and internet connections in the capital, Naypyitaw, and the main commercial center Yangon were disrupted and state television went off air after the NLD leaders were detained.
Summarising a meeting of the new junta through a statement released on a military-owned television station on Monday, the military said Min Aung Hlaing had pledged to practice 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.
However, Suu Kyi’s party said she had called on people to protest against the military takeover, quoting comments it said had been written in anticipation of a coup.
According to NLD spokesman, Myo Nyunt, Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and other NLD leaders were “taken” in the early hours of the morning.
A video posted to Facebook by one MP appeared to show the arrest of regional lawmaker Pa Pa Han. In the video, her husband pleads with men in military garb standing outside the gate. A young child can be seen clinging to his chest and wailing.
Troops and riot police stood by in Yangon where residents rushed to markets to stock up on supplies and others lined up at ATMs to withdraw cash. Banks then suspended services due to poor internet connections but said they would reopen from Tuesday
The coup derails years of Western-backed efforts to establish democracy in Myanmar, also known as Burma, where neighboring China has a powerful influence.