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Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been taken into custody after the military seized power in the country. Her reputation has been tarnished in recent years due to her government’s crackdown on the Rohingya minority population. Photo: Reuters
Weeks of tensions in Myanmar between the government of Aung San Suu Kyi and the military resulted in the military’s seizure of power on Monday.
Suu Kyi and other top civilian leaders were taken into custody by soldiers on the same day as the first new parliamentary session was due to be held since a national election last November.
Her National League for Democracy (NLD) party swept last year’s poll in a landslide, winning by an even greater margin than the 2015 vote that brought the former Nobel laureate to power.
But the country’s military, which has ruled the country for most of the last 60 years, says the vote was had many irregularities.
Myanmar protesters residing in Japan denounce Myanmar's military after seizing power from a democratically elected civilian government and arresting its leader Aung San Suu Kyi, during a rally at United Nations University in Tokyo. Photo: Reuters
It claims to have uncovered more than 10 million instances of voter fraud and has demanded the government-run election commission release voter lists for cross-checking.
Tensions grew after General Min Aung Hlaing - the head of the military and arguably Myanmar’s most powerful individual - gave a speech warning that the country’s constitution could be “revoked” if it is not respected.
Last week army tanks were also briefly deployed on the streets of commercial hub Yangon, the capital Naypyidaw and elsewhere, along with protests against the election result by pro-military supporters.
The army has declared a state of emergency and says it will take power for 12 months.
Myint Swe, a former general who ran the powerful Yangon military command and the current vice president of Myanmar, will become acting president for the next year.
In a statement read out on military-run Myawaddy TV and signed by Myint Swe, he said control of “legislation, administration and judiciary” had been handed over to Min Aung Hlaing - effectively returning Myanmar to military rule.
An Armed military soldier stands guard in front of a gate of Yangon regional government office, in Yangon. Photo: EPA
Has this happened before?
Myanmar has been ruled by military regimes for most of its history since independence from former colonial power Britain in 1948.
General Ne Win ousted a civilian administration in 1962, saying it was not competent enough to govern.
He ran the country for the next 26 years but stepped down in 1988 after huge nationwide protests.
A new generation of military leaders took command a few weeks later, citing the need to restore law and order in the country.
Junta leader General Than Shwe stepped down in 2011, handing over power to a government of retired generals after adopting the country’s current constitution.