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Myanmar's military retakes power in coup as Aung San Suu Kyi is detained

Myanmar’s armed forces (Tatmadaw) have again seized power in a re-assertion of military rule after five years of troubled parliamentary cohabitation with an elected civilian government.

The military’s third power grab since independence in 1948 dashed hopes that recent elections won by the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by the popular Aung San Suu Kyi marked a further step on the country’s transition to greater democracy.

After days of mounting political tensions, the coup d’état unfolded in the early hours of 1 February just hours before the new parliament, in which the NLD had won a crushing 83% of seats not reserved for the military, was due to convene in the national capital, Naypyidaw.

Troops detained Aung San Suu Kyi, who as State Counsellor had served as the country’s de facto civilian leader since 2016, along with President Win Myint and senior NLD executive committee members and state ministers.

Later that morning Vice President Myint Swe, a former senior military figure who will now serve as acting president, announced a one-year state of emergency under Article 417 of the military-drafted constitution of 2008. Powers of all three branches of government – administrative, legislative, and judicial – were transferred to Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

According to the military-run Myawaddy TV channel, Gen Min Aung Hlaing announced within hours that, following the implementation of certain emergency provisions, fresh elections would be held, although no precise timeframe was indicated.

Since December, the military and its defeated parliamentary proxy party, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), had repeatedly alleged that the November elections were marred by massive fraud and voting irregularities. These apparently unsubstantiated assertions had been consistently dismissed by the now-dissolved Union Election Commission (UEC), the NLD, and independent observers.

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