Myanmar’s (formerly known as Burma) military takeover of the government is a new and developing story making waves on the internet and in news around the world. However, Myanmar is no stranger to military coups and unstable leadership.
While the controversial situation is still unfolding, we can report to you what we know to be true.
On Monday, February 1st, Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, raided Parliament and detained members of the National League for Democracy (NDL) party.
After arresting the civilian NDL party members, the military installed Myint Swe as the president who handed power to the top military commander, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.
The country’s constitution adopted in 2008 allows the president to transfer power to the military during a state of emergency.
The military intends to maintain control of the government for the next 12 months due to claims of voter fraud in their November election.
A viral video shows dozens of military vehicles driving to the parliament building behind a woman participating in a live aerobics class who is completely unaware of the impending coup.
Vibe check: A woman doing a live aerobics class in #Myanmar this morning, apparently unaware of the ongoing coup. Military vehicles arrive behind her to seize the parliament building. pic.twitter.com/eZX2w2A4AE
— Jake Hanrahan (@Jake_Hanrahan) February 1, 2021
AP News says Monday was supposed to be the first day of the new Parliament after the November election where Suu Kyi, Myanmar State Counsellor and President of the NDL, overwhelmingly won against the military-backed party.
The military claims they took over because the election commission refused to investigate widespread irregularities on voter lists that likely led to fraud in the election. Myanmar’s military said it has found 8.6 million irregularities in voter lists in 314 townships that may have allowed voters to cast multiple ballots or use other fraudulent methods, the outlet reported.
However, the country’s election commission dismissed the claims, stating there is no evidence to support them.
Military-owned media reports they found it necessary to take over because of the lack of investigations into voter fraud.
While military coups are always serious, they are not uncommon in this Indonesian country. In fact, the country lived under military rule for 50 years before transitioning to a Democracy in 2010. Since then, the country’s elections have fallen short of a functioning Democracy.
A full timeline of power transitions in Myanmar can be found here.
The U.S. State Department officially declared the Myanmar military takeover a “coup.” They will proceed to review whether to continue providing foreign aid to the country.
“After a careful review of the facts and circumstances, we have assessed that Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Burma’s ruling party, and Win Myint, the duly elected head of government, were deposed in a military coup on Feb. 1,” a leading State Department official told reporters in a briefing on Tuesday.
“We continue to call on the Burmese military leadership to release them — and all other detained civil society and political leaders — immediately and unconditionally,” the State Department said.
The U.S. “will take action against those responsible, including through a careful review of our current sanctions posture, as it relates to Burma’s military leaders and companies associated with them,” and, “Most importantly, we will continue to stand with the people of Burma.”
What Happens From Here:
Although this is a developing situation, we can expect the State Department to cut aid to Myanmar if the situation does not improve.
Perhaps in the coming days, we will learn whether the military’s claims of voter fraud were substantiated or if they simply weaponed “election irregularities” to assume power of Myanmar.