Hours after Myanmar’s military staged a coup and detained senior politicians including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, her party released a statement on one of its Facebook pages saying the military’s actions were unjustified and went against the constitution and the will of voters. The statement urged people to oppose Monday’s “coup” and any return to “military dictatorship.”
It was not possible to confirm who posted the message as party members were not answering phone calls.
The military’s actions also received international condemnation and many countries called for the release of the detained leaders.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed “grave concern and alarm” over the reported detentions.
“We call on Burmese military leaders to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections,” he wrote in a statement, using Myanmar’s former name.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the developments a “serious blow to democratic reforms,” according to his spokesman. The Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on the military’s actions. Britain, which currently holds the council presidency, said it will probably take place Tuesday.
The UN high commissioner for human rights said in a statement that, in addition to politicians, the people detained included human rights defenders, journalists and activists.
In addition to announcing that the commander in chief would be in charge, the military TV report said Vice President Myint Swe would be elevated to acting president. Myint Swe is a former general best known for leading a brutal crackdown on Buddhist monks in 2007. He is a close ally of Than Shwe, the junta leader who ruled Myanmar for nearly two decades.
In a later announcement, the military said an election would be held in a year and the military would hand over power to the winner.
The military justified its move by citing a clause in the 2008 constitution, implemented during military rule, that says in cases of national emergency, the government’s executive, legislative and judicial powers can be handed to the military commander-in-chief.
On Saturday and Sunday, however, the military denied it had threatened a coup, accusing unnamed organizations and media of misrepresenting its position.