Myanmar’s military staged a coup Feb. 1 and detained senior politicians including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi — a sharp reversal of the significant, if uneven, progress toward democracy the Southeast Asian nation has made following five decades of military rule.
An announcement read on military-owned Myawaddy TV said Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing would be in charge of the country for one year. It said the seizure was necessary because the government had not acted 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 up for grabs — and because it allowed the election to go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The takeover came the morning a new parliamentary session was set to begin and follows days of concern that a coup was coming. The military maintains its actions are legally justified — citing a section of the Constitution it drafted that allows it to take control in times of national emergency — though Suu Kyi’s party spokesman and many international observers have said it amounts to a coup.
It was a dramatic backslide for Myanmar, which was emerging from decades of strict military rule and international isolation that began in 1962. It was also a shocking fall from power for Suu Kyi, 75, who had lived under house arrest for years as she tried to push her country toward democracy and became its de facto leader in 2015. (AP)