Myanmar's military says it's taking over as world leaders look on in shock
(Yahoo News) - Myanmar's military on Monday announced it would be taking over the country for at least a year, citing massive voter fraud as justification for the coup.
The announcement was made on the military-owned television channel Myawaddy TV, and it followed the detainment of several top Myanmar politicians, including the civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. Members of the ruling National League for Democracy were also taken into custody, according to the Associated Press. The newly elected parliament had been due to meet Monday for the first time since the election.
Myanmar Vice President Myint Swe, a former general who is backed by the military, is now heading up the government.
In the country's latest election, in November, the National League for Democracy won 396 out of 476 parliamentary seats, while the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won just 33 seats.
The military, known as the Tatmadaw, argued there was massive voter fraud and on Tuesday released a list of corruption allegations. It claimed there were 8.6 million instances of "voter irregularities" among a population of 54 million.
The claims were rejected by the country's election commission, according to the AP.
Myanmar's citizens woke up Monday to a media blackout, and there are reports that internet connectivity is down 75%, with the military planning to disconnect the internet later Monday.
As news of the coup spread across the country, people lined up at banks to pull their cash. Residents in the city of Yangon reported that area ATMs had run out of cash. According to Reuters, all banks are planning to shut down temporarily.
World leaders expressed shock and outrage at the military takeover.
"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 on November 8," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted. "The military must reverse these actions immediately."
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the coup represented "a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar."
Volkan Bozkir, the president of the UN General Assembly, tweeted: "I call for immediate release of detained political leaders. Attempts to undermine #democracy and rule of law are unacceptable. Military leaders must adhere to democratic norms and respect public institutions and civilian authority."
In a statement Monday, the military said the international community "should not be endorsing the next steps of the political process on a business-as-usual basis without understanding actual events," according to the Myanmar Times.
Sen. Bob Menendez, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recommended the US impose sanctions, "as well as other measures, against the Tatmadaw and the military leadership of Burma."
Myanmar's military ran the country until 2015, when it began transitioning toward a democratic model. In recent years, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was hailed as a humanitarian hero and presented with a Nobel Peace Prize while under house arrest in 1991, has been criticized for her response to the imprisonment and torture of the country's Rohingya ethnic minority.