Myanmar’s powerful military has taken control of the country in a coup and declared a state of emergency, following the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior government leaders in early morning raids Monday.
The country woke up to widespread internet and communications blackouts, closed banks, and soldiers in army fatigues patrolling the streets of Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. Residents turning on their television sets could only access the military-owned Myawaddy TV channel, with all other news channels seemingly blocked.
As news filtered through that the country’s democratically-elected leaders had been detained in the capital, a news anchor announced on the military-owned channel that power had been handed over to army chief Min Aung Hlaing.
In the address, the military confirmed it had detained the country’s de facto civilian leader Suu Kyi, along with other high ranking National League for Democracy (NLD) leaders, in response to alleged voting irregularities in November’s election.
Suu Kyi’s party, the NLD claimed an overwhelming victory in that election, taking 83% of the vote, which granted it another five years in government. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won just 33 out of a possible 476 seats.
The coup came just hours before the first session of the new parliament was set to open, and follows weeks of worsening political tensions in the country over the disputed election amid rumors that the military could take over.