Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi and other top leaders have been detained in an early-morning raid in an apparent “coup,” her party’s spokesperson Myo Nyunt said, a move that came after the country’s military disputed its landslide win in a November election.
Ever since Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide victory in a Nov. 8 poll, only the second general election after decades of army rule, the military and its political factions have demanded authorities investigate its allegations of mass voting fraud. Myanmar’s election commission last week had labeled the vote transparent and fair, and the U.S., United Nations and the European Union urged the military to respect the results.
Top military leaders had hinted at seizing power, even while saying they pledged to work in accordance with the law. In a statement on Sunday, Myanmar’s military — known as the Tatmadaw — denied objecting to the outcome of the election and said it “finds the process of the 2020 election unacceptable.”
Myanmar’s military had retained wide powers under the constitution even after a shift to democracy a decade ago, which prompted the U.S. and European Union to lift sanctions on the Southeast Asian country. But initial optimism that sparked a wave of interest from foreign investors quickly dissipated due to a violent crackdown against Muslim Rohingyas that prompted accusations of “genocide” against Suu Kyi’s government.
The treatment of the Rohingyas has tainted the international image of Suu Kyi, who had won the Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest during a military regime that effectively cut Myanmar off from the world.
In November’s election, Suu Kyi’s NLD won 396 seats in the national assembly, more than the 322 needed to form a government. Turnout was an estimated 70% of the nation’s 37.3 million people eligible to vote. The ruling party has also won 524 seats in elections held to state and regional parliaments, official data showed.