The US warned Myanmar after the military carried out a coup on Monday that it would “take action” if the “rule of law” is not restored and detainees including Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and senior political leaders from the Southeast Asian nation released.
The Myanmar army announced on military television that it had declared a state of emergency for a year and handed power over to military chief Min Aung Hlaing. She claimed the government failed to respond to her fraud allegations in the November election, in which Suu Kyi voted, party winning a majority of seats in parliament.
The military also argued that the government allowed the elections to take place despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The US State Department and the White House were quick to issue statements condemning the coup.
President Biden’s White House said it was “alarmed” by actions by the military to “undermine the country’s democratic transition” in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
“We continue to reaffirm our strong support for the democratic institutions in Burma and call on the military and all other parties, in coordination with our regional partners, to adhere to democratic norms and the rule of law and to release those detained today,” said the statement from Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said.
“The United States rejects any attempt to change the outcome of the recent elections or obstruct democratic transition in Myanmar and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” she continued, adding that the US will continue to monitor the situation.
State Secretary Antony Blinken issued a statement calling for the release of government officials and “respect for the will of the people of Burma, as it was expressed in the democratic elections on November 8th”.
“The United States stands with the people of Burma in their pursuit of democracy, freedom, peace and development. The military must immediately reverse these actions, ”it said.
Reports of the coup had been circulating for days, and Suu Kyi’s party posted comments on Facebook in anticipation of the military action and urged its supporters to protest the takeover.
Military leaders slammed in the hours leading up to the likely convening of parliament for the first time since the November elections, widely viewed as a referendum on Suu Kyi’s democratic rule.
The military argued that the government’s takeover was legal, citing part of the constitution it drafted that said it could take control in the event of a national emergency.
Telephone and Internet connections in the capital Naypyitaw and the main business center of Yangon were cut, while state television was cut off after Suu Kyi and the other leaders were arrested.
Passenger flights have also been discontinued.
Banking operations – such as ATMs – across the country also had problems due to internet outages.
Pro-democracy activists have beaten the military for breaking the referendum.
“Our country was a bird that was just learning to fly. Now the army has broken our wings, ”student activist Si Thu Tun told Reuters.
“The NLD is the government we voted for. If you are not satisfied with the result, you can hold another election. A coup is unacceptable, “a woman who refused to be identified told Reuters, referring to the ruling National League for Democracy.
The coup was a devastating defeat for Suu Kyi, the 75-year-old Peace Prize winner who tried to drive her country towards democracy after years of house arrest and Myanmar trying to get out of decades of military rule.
She became the de facto leader in the country after her NLD party won the 2015 election.
But she has also been heavily criticized in international circles for defending the actions of the military against Rohingya Muslims, which the US and other nations have labeled genocide.
With postal wires