Coup: US threatens sanction as Myanmar’s soldiers chase Prime Minister out of power

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The military in Myanmar has removed the Prime Minister, Aung San Suu Kyi from power.

The military seized power on Monday in a coup against the democratically elected government of the Nobel laureate.

Aung San Suu Kyi before her ouster was de facto prime minister in her position as state counsellor.

The United States has threatened sanction against the country as the United Nations condemned the coup.

In an early morning raid, Suu Kyi was detained along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

The army said it had carried out the detentions in response to “election fraud”, handing power to military chief Min Aung Hlaing and imposing a state of emergency for one year, according to a statement on a military-owned television station.

The generals made their move hours before parliament had been due to sit for the first time since the NLD’s landslide win in a Nov. 8 election viewed as a referendum on Suu Kyi’s fledgling democratic government.

Phone lines to the capital Naypyitaw and the main commercial centre of Yangon were not reachable, and state TV went off air. People rushed to markets in Yangon to stock up on food and supplies while others lined up at ATMs to withdraw cash.

Soldiers took up positions at city hall in Yangon and mobile internet data and phone services in the NLD stronghold were disrupted, residents said. Internet connectivity also had fallen dramatically, monitoring service NetBlocks said.

A verified Facebook account from Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party on Monday published a statement on behalf of detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, saying that people should not accept a military coup and should protest.

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The NLD said the statement, which was uploaded on a Facebook page used by the party during its election campaign, was written before Monday’s coup had taken place.

“The actions of the military are actions to put the country back under a dictatorship,” said the statement, which carried leader Suu Kyi’s name but not her signature.

“I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.”

The statement was issued by the party chairman Win Htein, who in a handwritten note at the bottom stressed it was authentic and reflected Suu Kyi’s wishes.

The arrest of Suu Kyi, Myanmar President Win Myint and other NLD leaders were first confirmed by NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt.

The detentions came after days of escalating tension between the civilian government and the military that stirred fears of a coup in the aftermath of the election.

Suu Kyi’s party won 83% of the vote in only the second election since a military junta agreed to share power in 2011.

The White House said President Joe Biden had been briefed on the arrests and Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the leaders’ release.

“The United States stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately,” he said in a statement, using an alternative name for Myanmar.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the detention of Suu Kyi and other political leaders and “urges the military leadership to respect the will of the people of Myanmar,” a U.N. spokesman said.

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The Australian government said it was “deeply concerned at reports the Myanmar military is once again seeking to seize control of Myanmar”.

Japan said it was watching the situation and had no plans to repatriate Japanese nationals from Myanmar, while India’s foreign ministry expressed deep concerns about the coup.

Singapore had “grave” concern about the unfolding situation in Myanmar and urged all sides to work towards a peaceful outcome, its foreign ministry said.

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