International desk – Myanmar’s military has taken control of the country in a coup and arrested Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior government leaders over a dispute in the November election.
The army also declared a state of emergency for a year and said a fresh election would not be held before the emergency is lifted, according to international media.
CNN reports that the country woke up to widespread internet and communications blackouts, closed banks, and soldiers in army fatigues patrolling the streets of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.
Residents turning on their television sets could only access the military-owned Myawaddy TV channel, with all other news channels seemingly blocked.
As news filtered through that the country’s democratically-elected leaders had been detained in the capital — hours before the first session of the new parliament was set to open — a news anchor announced on the military-owned channel that power had been handed over to army chief Min Aung Hlaing.
The military confirmed it had detained the country’s de facto civilian leader Suu Kyi, along with other high ranking National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders, in response to alleged voting irregularities in November’s election.
Suu Kyi’s party claimed an overwhelming victory taking 83% of the vote, which granted it another five years in government. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won 33 out of a possible 476 seats, far fewer than the party had expected.
The coup followed weeks of worsening political tensions in the country over the disputed election.
There were rumors that the military could take over.
Footage show the army was patrolling major streets in the capital Naypyidaw and other big cities like Yangon.
World leaders have condemned the coup and asked the military rulers to release all the democratically elected leaders.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken of the United States asked the military leaders to “release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people.”
Army chief Min Aung Hlaing, who is now running the country, has been under US sanctions since December 2019.
He was designated for serious human rights abuses related to the atrocities committed against the Rohingya Muslim community.