Myanmar‘s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been arrested by the country’s armed forces in a pre-dawn raid. The country’s military said it had declared a state of emergency and would take control of the country for one year, in what UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as an unlawful coup. But what does this mean?
What is a coup?
A coup is described by the Cambridge Dictionary as “a sudden illegal, often violent, taking of government power, especially by part of an army”.
The term is also known as a ‘coup d’état’ – which Merriam Webster dictionary describes as “a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics”.
The definition adds the word especially covers “the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group.”
EXPLAINED: Myanmar coup: What is happening in Myanmar?
What does de facto mean?
According to Merriam Webster, de facto means: “Being such in effect though not formally recognised.”
For example, you could be in a de facto war, without war being officially declared.
In terms of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi was the de facto leader after her National League for Democracy party won the November elections.
But the military claims there were “huge discrepancies” in the country’s vote, demanding they will now take charge for up to a year.
What is happening to Aung San Suu Kyi?
Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other NLD leaders were “taken” in the early hours of the morning as the military carried out dawn raids across Myanmar, according to NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt.
The army said it had carried out the detentions in response to “election fraud” from the November 2020 vote.
The coup has seen power handed to military chief Min Aung Hlaing, along with the imposing a state of emergency for one year, according to a statement on a military-owned television station.
A verified NLD Facebook page has quoted Ms Suu Kyi as saying such army actions would put Myanmar “back under a dictatorship”.
The statement added: “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.”
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The military, which is known to back Ms Suu Kyi’s opposition, claims to have found “huge discrepancies” in the election result.
A statement broadcast on military-owned TV on Monday claimed voter lists were “found to have huge discrepancies and the Union Election Commission failed to settle this matter”.
The statement read: “Although the sovereignty of the nation must derive from the people, there was terrible fraud in the voter list during the democratic general election which runs contrary to ensuring a stable democracy.
“Unless this problem is resolved, it will obstruct the path to democracy and it must therefore be resolved according to the law.
“Therefore, the state of emergency is declared in accordance with article 417 of the 2008 constitution.”
In Myanmar, mobile internet data connections and some phone services have been disrupted in the country’s major cities.
The state broadcaster MRTV is off air claiming the problem is due to technical issues.
In the country’s largest city and former capital Yangon, phone lines and internet connectivity appear to be limited, with many providers cutting their services.
Many residents in the country have been seen lining up at ATM’s to collect money,, but banks have temporary suspended all financial services according to the Myanmar Banks Association.
Who is Aung San Suu Kyi?
Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Myanmar’s heroic General Aung San who was assassinated before the nation gained independence from British colonial rule in 1948.
She rose to prominence in the 8888 uprising of August 8, 1988, and became the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy.
In 1990, her party won 81 per cent of the seats in Parliament, but the results were nullified by the military Government which refused to relinquish power.
She was detained under house arrest before the elections and remain under house arrest for almost 15 years.
Her party boycotted the 2010 elections, resulting in a decisive victory for the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.
In 2015, the NLD won a landslide victory, taking 86 percent of the seats in the Assembly of the Union.