The Myanmar army staged a coup on Monday. Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi and other prominent members of her party have been arrested. What is going on?
Why is the army involved?
According to the military, the state party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), is guilty of rigging the elections. Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won last year’s elections with a large majority of the vote. The result was disappointing for the military-backed party. The military says violations were found during the elections, but observers say this is not the case.
Aung San Suu Kyi won the country’s first democratic elections since the 1960s in 2015, after the end of military rule in 2011. The military retained some strength. For example, a quarter of Parliament is made up of soldiers. As a result of the results of the second election, the army must once again give up some of its power.
The relationship between the government and the military has been strained over allegations of election fraud. Tensions escalated in the run-up to the first session of the new parliament. Parliament will meet for the first time on Monday. A few hours earlier, Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders of the National League for Democracy were arrested. Later in the day, the ministers were replaced.
How does Myanmar respond to the coup?
Some Myanmar residents are celebrating the fact that the army is back in power. But not everyone is happy with the coup. Aung San Suu Kyi is loved in her country for her struggle for democracy and the resistance to the junta that kept her in home custody for 15 years. For this she won many international prizes, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
The ballot box in November last year was considered a referendum on the democratic rule of Aung San Suu Kyi. A spokesman for the National League for Democracy spoke of a “crushing” victory after the result was announced, indicating that Myanmar still believe in Aung San Suu Kyi. She has been widely criticized internationally for allegations of genocide against the Rohingya, but this appears to have little effect on her popularity in Myanmar.
What will happen in Myanmar now?
The army reported that power had been transferred to General Min Aung Hlaing. I declared a state of emergency for next year because the sovereignty of democracy will be threatened. This is possible according to the constitution. According to the military, this is necessary in order for the election problems to be resolved.
The National League for Democracy declares that the military wants to return the country to a dictatorship, but the military says it wants to restore democracy. On Facebook, the National League for Democracy calls on people to oppose the military coup, but no party member has confirmed this message.
Since then, many countries – surrounding as well as Western – have condemned the military’s action. The European Union also wants to release the detainees and respect the election results.