In Myanmar, the military has taken control of the nation in an apparent coup. On Monday, a statement read on military-owned Myawaddy TV has indicated Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing will have control of the country for a one year period under a state of emergency. Many government leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi have been detained by the military. The seizure, according to the statement, was necessitated by the government’s failure to act on the military’s claims of fraud in November’s elections — in which Suu Kyi’s ruling party won a majority of the parliamentary seats— and because the government allowed the election to go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic. Under the nation’s laws, however, the action by the military is not illegal. Article 417 of Myanmar’s constitution allows the military to assume control during a time of emergency. Granted, the military drafted the constitution in 2008, it holds a thin veneer of legality and legitimacy.
In the capital city of Naypyitaw, television, internet and telecommunications access has been restricted, and social media outages have been reported in other areas of Myanmar. Military units are taking up positions around government buildings and roadblocks are appearing in Naypyitaw, and other major cities. Troops are said to be guarding the residences of parliament members, and key government officials. By the afternoon, residents were removing the red flags of Suu Kyi’s party from their homes and businesses.
International condemnation has been swift in coming. Even at this early stage of the situation, diplomats around the world are calling for all politicians my Myanmar to be released and calling the military’s actions a serious attack on democracy.