State of emergency and military takes power. Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint arrested
by Francis Khoo Thwe

Soldiers control the country; internet and phones blocked. The coup d'état comes after the stunning victory of Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the elections last November. The army claims fraud. The military will force new elections within a month. The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, condemns the detentions carried out by the military. United States issues condemnation, China keeps it silence.


Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar’s military leaders declared a state of emergency this morning and entrusted all powers to the commander of the armed forces, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. According to fragmentary information, the head of the secular government, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, are being held in Naypidaw along with other leaders.

The coup against the government comes after the landslide victory of Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) in the elections last November, where the military party gained only 25 seats in parliament, against the Nld’s 346.

Observers say the military's fear of a change in the constitution that could cause them to lose power in parliament - where they already hold 25% of seats by law - first pushed them to declare there was "fraud" in the elections, and today to a coup.

The first meeting of parliament with the new composition was scheduled this morning, with an absolute NLD majority.

National television has been blocked, as have the internet and many telephone carriers. Hordes of soldiers guard the streets of Naypidaw and Yangon.

According to military television, the state of emergency will last at least a year. Personalities in Yangon predict that the military will force new elections within a month.

The military oligarchy has had power over Myanmar since a coup d'etat in 1962. Popular demonstrations and international pressure led to a rewrite of the constitution in 2008 and in 2011 to the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was held under house arrest from 1989 to 2010. In November 2015, the NLD won the first free elections in 25 years.

The constitution, however, guaranteed the military power in parliament and in society: all industries, businesses, natural wealth and relations with foreign countries are still managed by the military, making any transition to greater democracy difficult.

In all these years, Aung San Suu Kyi - awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 - has had a mediating function between the power of the military and the international community. She has been criticized for not having rigorously condemned the violence of the army against Rohingya refugees, the Muslim population of the Arakan region, also disliked by many sections of the Burmese population.

Last week, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, now in power under the state of emergency, had threatened a revocation of the constitution in case of risks of disintegration of "national solidarity" in the country.

More than two weeks ago, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Myanmar. According to observers, China will not be happy with the turn of events. But so far Beijing is silent. But according to Murray Hiebert, a Southeast Asian policy expert, Myanmar will always receive support from China, which has often been the junta's only supporter in the past.

The United States immediately condemned the coup, which "blocks the democratic transition". The UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, also "strongly" condemned the detentions carried out by the military.

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