Myanmar’s military has seized power, saying it will be in charge for one year, while declaring a state of emergency due to what it sees as a rigged election won by the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, now reportedly under arrest.
With most TV broadcasting cut off amid rumors of a military coup in the making, military-owned Myawaddy TV announced Monday morning that the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, General Min Aung Hlaing, will be taking control over the country for one year.
The channel reported that the military invoked a state of emergency in accordance with the constitution, which provides it with far-reaching emergency powers.
The military, known as the Tatmadaw, doubled down on its allegations of voter fraud in the November general election, citing the civilian government’s failure to investigate the allegations as one of the reasons behind the move. The Tatmadaw also aired its grievances over Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy party’s refusal to postpone the election due to the coronavirus pandemic, as demanded by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and 24 other parties.
The military has yet to clarify the status of Suu Kyi, who was, along with Myanmar’s president, Win Myint and several other high-ranking officials, reportedly detained earlier on Monday.
Tensions between Suu Kyi, who is vehemently opposed to military rule as a pro-democracy activist, and the armed forces have been running high since before the election. The November vote, in which the 1991 Nobel laureate’s party won 396 seats out of 476 in the bicameral parliament, apparently exacerbated the situation, sparking voter fraud claims from the military, which claimed they found 8.6 million irregularities in voter lists. On Thursday, Myanmar’s election commission rejected the allegations, arguing that there was not enough evidence to support the claims.
In the run-up to the takeover, the military signaled that it would not back away from the claims of rampant voter fraud. Last week, a military spokesman warned that the army was about to “take action” and implored observers “to wait and watch.”
Suu Kyi’s apparent removal from power comes just several hours before the legislature was to convene for the first time and elect the country’s president for the next five years.