Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi attends a summit in Manila, Philippines. File/Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Myanmar’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior ruling party figures were detained in morning raids on Monday amid fears of a military coup following a disputed election, her National League for Democracy (NLD) party said.
Suu Kyi’s political party is urging Myanmar's people to oppose Monday's "coup” and any return to "military dictatorship.”
Myanmar's Army Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing speaks at the conference in Naypyitaw. AP
The Myanmar army said it had carried out the detentions in response to “election fraud,” according to a statement on a military-owned television station, according to Reuters.
The National League for Democracy released a statement on the Facebook page of its party head, Suu Kyi, saying the military's actions were unjustified and went against the constitution and the will of voters.
A military spokesman did not answer phone calls seeking further comment.
Phone lines to the capital Naypyitaw were not reachable and state TV went off air hours before parliament had been due to sit for the first time since the NLD’s landslide election win in November, viewed as a referendum on Suu Kyi’s fledgling democratic government.
Suu Kyi, Myanmar President Win Myint and other NLD leaders had been “taken” in the early hours of the morning, NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt told Reuters by phone.
“I want to tell our people not to respond rashly and I want them to act according to the law,” he said, adding that he expected to be arrested himself. Reuters was subsequently unable to contact him.
The detentions came after days of escalating tension between the civilian government and the military that stirred fears of a coup in the aftermath of the election.
The White House said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the arrest of Suu Kyi.
“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
The Australian government said it was “deeply concerned at reports the Myanmar military is once again seeking to seize control of Myanmar” and called for the immediate release of the unlawfully detained leaders.
Japan said it was watching the situation and currently had no plans to repatriate Japanese nationals from Myanmar.Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi, 75, came to power after a 2015 election win that followed decades of house arrest in a struggle for democracy with Myanmar’s junta that turned her into an international icon.
Her international standing was damaged after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled army operations into refuge from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state in 2017, but she remains hugely popular at home.
Political tensions soared last week when a military spokesman declined to rule out a coup ahead of the new parliament convening on Monday, and military chief Min Aung Hlaing raised the prospect of repealing the constitution.
But the military appeared to backtrack on the weekend, issuing a statement on social media on Sunday saying it would “do everything possible to adhere to the democratic norms of free and fair elections.”
Tanks were deployed in some streets last week and pro-military demonstrations have taken place in some cities ahead of the first gathering of parliament.
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The UN Security Council was due to meet later on Tuesday, diplomats said, amid calls for a strong global response to the military’s arrest of the Noble Peace laureate and dozens of her political allies on dawn raids on Monday.
Western countries have condemned the coup and called for an end to the violence and for the release of Suu Kyi and others. Asian neighbours have offered to help find a solution to the crisis.
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