Updated Jan 31, 2021 - World

Myanmar's military takes power in coup after detaining Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi looks on as health workers receive a vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a hostipal in Naypyidaw on january 27

Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at a hospital in Naypyidaw on Wednesday. Photo: Thet Aung/AFP via Getty Images

Myanmar's military TV station announced Monday the army has declared a one-year state of emergency after taking power and detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other top ruling party leaders.

Why it matters: The coup comes after escalating tensions between the civilian government and the military following last November's elections, which Nobel laureate Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.

  • Myanmar was ruled by the military until 2011. But it had been "celebrated as a rare case in which generals willingly handed over some power to civilians" after it respected the NLD's 2015 election win, the New York Times notes.

What's happening: The military said that the country's army chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, was now in charge.

  • NLD spokesperson Myo Nyunt told Reuters that the 75-year-old party leader Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were among those "taken" in early-morning raids Monday local time.
  • Communications were disrupted in the capital Naypyitaw and Yangon, where soldiers took up positions in the main commercial center's city hall, Reuters notes.
  • State TV went off air hours before parliament had been due to sit for the first time since the NLD's November election win.

Driving the news: The NLD won enough seats to form a government last November, but the military said the elections were not fair.

  • The election commission rejected allegations of fraud, but the military has said in recent days that it would "take action" over the outcome, per the BBC.

What they're saying: Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed "grave concern and alarm" at the developments in Myanmar in a statement soon after the coup.

  • White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in an earlier statement the U.S. was "alarmed" by reports that the military "has taken steps to undermine the country’s democratic transition," including the arrest of Suu Kyi and others.
  • President Biden has been briefed on the situation, said Psaki, who called on the military to release the detained officials and "adhere to democratic norms and the rule of law."
  • In a statement, a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the coup as "a serious blow to democratic reforms."

Of note: Suu Kyi won a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize during her nonviolent campaign for democracy that saw her placed under house arrest for a total of 15 years.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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