Hundreds of members of Myanmar’s parliament remained confined inside their government housing in the country’s capital on Tuesday, a day after the military staged a coup and detained senior politicians including Nobel laureate and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, meanwhile, released a statement calling for the military to honor the results of last November’s election and release of all of those detained.
One of the detained lawmakers said he and 400-some parliament members were able to speak with one another inside the compound and communicate with their constituencies by phone, but were not allowed to leave the housing complex in Naypyitaw. He said police were inside the complex and soldiers were outside it.
“We had to stay awake and be alert,” the lawmaker said on condition of anonymity out of concern for his safety.
The lawmaker said police were inside the complex and soldiers were outside it. He said the politicians, comprised of members of Suu Kyi’s party and various smaller parties, spent a sleepless night worried that they might be taken away but were otherwise okay.
The takeover came the morning lawmakers from all of the country had gathered in the capital for the opening of the new parliamentary session and follows days of worry that a coup was coming. The military said the seizure was necessary because the government had not acted on the military’s claims of fraud in November’s elections — in which Suu Kyi’s ruling party won a majority of the parliamentary seats up for grabs — and because it allowed the election to go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic.
An announcement read on military-owned Myawaddy TV on Monday said Commander-in-Chief Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing would be in charge of the country for one year. Late Monday, the office of the commander-in-chief announced the names of new Cabinet ministers. The 11-member Cabinet is composed of military generals, former military generals and former advisers to a previous government headed by former general Thein Sein.
The coup is a dramatic backslide for Myanmar, which was emerging from decades of strict military rule and international isolation that began in 1962. It now presents a test for the international community, which had ostracized Myanmar while it was under military rule and then enthusiastically embraced Suu Kyi’s government as a sign the country was finally on the path to democracy. US President Joe Biden threatened new sanctions, which the country had previously faced.