On Monday, the military toppled Myanmar’s fragile democratic government in a coup, after arresting civilian leaders, shutting down the internet and canceling flights.
The coup returns the country to full military rule after a brief experience of quasi-democracy that began in 2011, when the military, which had been in power since 1962, implemented parliamentary elections and other reforms.
What led to the military coup in Myanmar?
Parliament had scheduled its first session this week since the November 8 elections, when the National League for Democracy (LND), the country’s main civilian party, won 83% of the available seats in the body.
The military refused to accept the results of the vote, which was widely seen as a referendum on the popularity of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the LND, who has been the de facto civilian leader of the country since taking office. in 2015.
The new parliament is expected to approve the election results and approve the next government in Myanmar.
The possibility of a coup has arisen in recent days. The military, which had tried to argue in the country’s Supreme Court that the election results were rigged, threatened to take action and surrounded the houses of parliament with soldiers.
How did the coup d’état unfold?
The military arrested leaders of the ruling party, the LND, and Myanmar’s civilian leaders on Monday, including Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, as well as ministers, chief ministers from various regions, opposition politicians, writers and activists.
The coup was actually announced on the military-owned Myawaddy TV channel when a host cited the 2008 constitution, which allows the armed forces to declare a national emergency. The state of emergency, he said, will remain in place for a year.
The military quickly took control of the country’s infrastructure, suspending most television broadcasts and canceling all domestic and international flights, according to reports.
Access to the telephone and the Internet has been suspended in major cities. The stock market and commercial banks were closed, and long lines formed in some places in front of the ATMs.
In Yangon, the country’s largest city and its former capital, locals have flocked to supermarkets to stock up on food and other supplies.
Who is Aung San Suu Kyi?
Suu Kyi came to power as state councilor in 2016, after Myanmar’s first fully democratic elections in decades.
His rise to leadership was seen as a critical moment in the country’s formerly known as Burma’s transition from military dictatorship to democracy. Suu Kyi, daughter of independence hero General Aung San, has spent more than 15 years under house arrest.
Her time in detention transformed her into an international icon and she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
Since his release, his reputation has been tarnished for cooperating with the military and vehemently defending the murderous campaign against the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority. In 2019, Suu Kyi represented the country in a trial at the International Criminal Court, in which he defended Myanmar on charges of ethnic violence.
Many believed that Suu Kyi’s cooperation with the military was a pragmatic step to accelerate the country’s evolution towards full democracy. But his arrest on Monday seems to prove that the army’s commitment to democracy was false.
Who is General Aung Hlaing?
The military said they handed over power to the army chief, elderly General Aung Hlaing, who was due to retire this summer. His sponsorship network, focused on lucrative family businesses, may have been undermined by his retirement, especially if he was unable to secure a clean exit.
Under the previous power-sharing deal, Hlaing chaired two business conglomerates and could appoint three key positions in the cabinet that would oversee police and border guards.
The army never came under the control of the civilian government. In recent years, the military, under Hlaing’s command, has overseen campaigns against various ethnic minority groups in the country, including the Rohingya, Shan and Kokang.
Chronology of Myanmar’s political history
1948: Former British colony, Myanmar becomes an independent country 1962: General Ne Win abolishes the Constitution of 1947 and establishes a military regime 1974: Beginning of the first post-independence constitution 1988: The violent repression of demonstrations against the military regime generates international critics 1990: National League for Democracy (NLD), opposed to the regime, wins first multiparty election in 30 years and is barred from taking power 1991: Aung San Suu Kyi of NLD wins 1997 Nobel Peace Prize: US and EU impose sanctions on Myanmar for human rights violations and lack of respect for 2008 election results: Assembly approves new 2011 Constitution: Thein Sein, retired general , is elected president and the military regime is dissolved 2015: the NLD obtains the majority in both houses of Parliament 2016: Htin Kyaw is elected first civilian president since the coup d’Ét at 1962 and Suu Kye takes over as State Councilor, a position equivalent to that of Prime Minister 2018: Kyaw resigns and Win Myi nt assumes the 2020 presidency: during the legislative elections, the NLD receives 83% of the vote and defeats pro-military party 2021: army alleges election fraud, arrests NLD leaders, seizes power with new coup