Myanmar coup: Boris Johnson condemns 'unlawful imprisonment' of Aung San Suu Kyi

[Newsmaker] Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, other senior figures detained in late-night raid: ruling party

But Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's civilian leader who was detained with others Monday, had been rapidly losing Western support as the Nobel laureate stayed reticent - some argue so as not to antagonize the military - about a brutal campaign against the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority.

"This is an ominous moment for people in Myanmar, and threatens a severe worsening of military repression and impunity", she said, adding that the sweeping arrests show that the military will not tolerate dissent.

The NLD party handily won elections in November, but the military's refusal to accept the results prompted worries that it would stage a takeover and arrest Suu Kyi and other democratically elected leaders.

Myanmar's military will certainly be looking to how Washington responds, but the USA has limited leverage and "the most important external actors are China, India and Japan", said Josh Kurlantzick, senior fellow for Southeast Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank.

Myawaddy TV, which is controlled by the military, announced the takeover and cited a section of the military-drafted constitution that allows the military to take control in times of national emergency. It also said the government's failure to postpone the elections despite the coronavirus pandemic was behind it.

The military on Monday detained the leaders of the governing N.L.D. party and Myanmar's civilian leadership, including Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, along with cabinet ministers, the chief ministers of several regions, opposition politicians, writers and activists.

Some experts expressed puzzlement that the military would move to upset the status quo - in which the generals continue to hold tremendous power despite progress toward democracy in recent years. The commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, is said to be in control of the country. In addition to the political accommodations accorded the military in Myanmar's constitution, there was no civilian oversight of the armed forces, and military leaders saw themselves as protectors of the country. "This might be reflecting those dynamics and might be somewhat of a coup internally and his way of maintaining power within the military".

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Access to television stations, phone lines and Internet services have been cut, The Myanmar Times reported.

Barbed wire road blocks were set up across Yangon, the largest city, and military units began to appear outside government buildings such as City Hall.

Former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson questioned Suu Kyi's ability to lead given that defence.

"We request the release of stakeholders including state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi who was detained today", Japan's foreign ministry said in a statement urging "the national army to quickly restore the democratic political system in Myanmar". In June 2019, the government banned the internet in parts of Rakhine and Chin State, the sites of ongoing fighting between the Myanmar military and Arakan Army. "We do not say the Tatmadaw will take power", he told reporters in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw. Even before the current military takeover critics of the military often faced legal action.

Myanmar's military coup marks an early test case of President Joe Biden's determination to advocate democracy but, unlike a decade ago when the United States nurtured a transition there, he has limited options.

"Myanmar is an unexpected early test for the Biden administration, which has emphasized human rights and democracy as cornerstones of USA foreign policy", she said.

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