Myanmar’s military has seized power after detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior members of her governing party.
This happened In the early hours of Monday the army’s TV station said power had been handed over to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.
According to a statement on military TV all authority has been given to the top army commander and a one-year state of emergency has been declared.
The coup follows a landslide win by Ms Suu Kyi’s party in an election which the army claims was marred by fraud.
She urged her supporters to “not accept this” and “protest against the coup”.
Ms Suu Kyi and other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) were arrested.
Data and communications services have been disrupted. Banks said they had been forced to close and queues formed at cash machines.
The military says it found millions of irregularities in parliamentary elections lost by the army-back opposition in November. The election commission has rejected the fraud claims.
But the army had threatened to “take action” and now says it will use its emergency powers to organise a new vote.
The armed forces in Myanmar have confirmed that they have carried out a coup d’etat, their first against a civilian government since 1962, and in apparent violation of the constitution which the military promised to honour as recently as last Saturday.
The grievances which have been driving tension between the military and the government are well enough known. The military-backed party, the USDP, performed poorly in last November’s general election, whereas the NLD did even better than in 2015.
The timing of this coup is also easily explained. This week the first session of parliament since the election was due to start, which would have enshrined the election result by approving the next government. That will no longer happen.
Meanwhile, The United States has condemned the coup, saying Washington “opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the release of all government officials and civil society leaders and said the US “stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately.”
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the coup and Aung San Suu Kyi’s “unlawful imprisonment”.
I condemn the coup and unlawful imprisonment of civilians, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in Myanmar. The vote of the people must be respected and civilian leaders released.