India and the US – the world’s two biggest democracies – have taken strong note of the military action in Myanmar. President U Win Myint and the country’s de facto leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, were detained in a coup staged by the army in the early hours of Monday (February 1).
Washington has warned Myanmar’s military officials of strong action if they continue to detain the civilian leaders.
There has been a crackdown on the functionaries of the Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) with several lawmakers and regional ministers being put behind the bars, according to The Irrawaddy, a leading publication of Myanmar.
The Myanmar military, also called Tatmadaw, has been at loggerheads with the NLD over last year’s election results. While the NLD won the polls, the Army had sought a thorough investigation into what it called large-scale election frauds.
India, which has been supporting Myanmar’s transition to democracy, woke up to this terrible news in its neighborhood on Monday. As this author wrote in several articles, a peaceful and democratic Myanmar is key to the success of New Delhi’s ‘Act East’ policy, aimed at countering China’s growing influence in Southeast East.
Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures including President Win Myint were detained in a raid amid escalating tension between the civilian government and the military https://t.co/7jyiMIXUxO pic.twitter.com/WKgWx8nrOr
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 1, 2021
“We have noted the developments in Myanmar with deep concern. India has always been steadfast in its support to the process of democratic transition in Myanmar. We believe that the rule of law and the democratic process must be upheld. We are monitoring the situation closely,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
The US has warned Myanmar’s top military officials that it will not hesitate to “take action” if they continue to detain the civilian leaders, Politico reported.
The Tatmadaw-backed Myawaddy TV ran a broadcast saying that acting President U Myint Swe, a former general, has declared a nationwide state of emergency for one year under Article 417 of the 2008 Constitution.
“The country’s legislative, administrative and judicial powers are transferred to the military’s commander-in-chief, in accordance with Article 418 of the military-backed 2008 Constitution, until the actions are taken against [alleged irregularities in] voter list checking and [approval],” a statement read out during the broadcast said.
It justified the military action saying the Union Election Commission has failed to rectify the alleged anomalies in the voters’ lists.
Internet services have been shut down and there is a likelihood of curtailment of civil liberties in the wake of the military coup in the Southeast Asian nation. Internet connectivity fell drastically on Monday morning, India Today online reported citing data released by monitoring service NetBlocks.
It said phone lines to the capital Naypyitaw and the main commercial hub of Yangon were not reachable, and state TV went off air.
(This is a developing story and will be updated to include experts’ comments and more information as and when we receive)