Myanmar’s military announced Monday that it has seized power and will rule the country for at least one year after detaining its top political leaders.
The military declared a state of emergency, detaining State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior members of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party just hours before the scheduled start of the first session of the new parliament.
It claimed the moves were being carried out due to “voter fraud” in the Nov. 8 elections which resulted in the dominance of Suu Kyi’s NLD party in parliament. Critics say the military used the voter fraud allegations to justify the coup.
The military also announced that Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing has been installed as the country’s president.
The detention of top political figures follows days of rising tensions between the military and civilian government, said NLD spokesperson Myo Nyunt.
“I want to tell our people not to respond rashly and I want them to act according to the law,” Nyunt had said right after the arrests.
He added that he also expects to be detained.
As debate continued in the country over the results of the November last year elections, the army’s chief of staff announced on Jan. 27 that the Constitution could be terminated if election laws were not properly enforced.
In the cities of the capital Naypyidaw and in Yangon, soldiers descended on the streets early on Monday as telephone and internet lines were cut off in Naypyidaw.
In addition, the families of ministers in 14 regions said the ministers had been “taken” from their homes by soldiers.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement on Friday that Guterres was “following with great concern the latest developments” in the Southeast Asian country, urging all parties to “refrain from all forms of provocation, respect the results of the Nov. 8 general election and adhere to democratic norms.”
Chief of staff: Constitution can be repealed
Myanmar’s Election Commission has denied allegations by the military of election rigging, resulting in the victory of Suu Kyi’s party on Jan. 29.
Myanmar’s military chief Hlaing had said last week that the Constitution could be dissolved if election laws were not properly enforced.
A later statement on Saturday by the army, also known as the Tatmadaw, had claimed Hlaing’s statement was not a threat of a “coup.”
In November last year, the main opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), had voiced support for the military, calling for a recount.
Led by Suu Kyi, the NLD won 346 seats in the 642-seat National Assembly, reaching a majority capable of forming a government.
The USDP came in second with 25 seats, while the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) party, which represents ethnic groups in Shan state, came in third with 15.
In Myanmar, a constitution drafted by the military in 2008 prevents the ruling party from gaining control of parliament.
The army appoints a quota of 25% of parliament seats and exerts direct control over the government through its control over some key ministries.
Bicameral Myanmar’s Senate consists of 224 seats, while the House of Representatives has 440 members.
Nigel Adams, Britain’s Minister of State for Asia, said elections in Myanmar were blocked in areas with minorities and that Myanmar officials should hold free and fair elections at the first opportunity.
The EU also called on the Myanmar government to include all ethnic, religious and minority groups, including Rohingya Muslims, in the democratic process in the country.
In the Nov. 8 elections, there were 37 million voters, 5 million of whom voted for the first time, while around 7,000 candidates competed for seats in a total of 1,171 national and local councils.
Cameroonian soldiers hunting for separatist fighters kill civilians
No less than four civilians were killed Wednesday when the military invaded the village of Noni in the North West region, in search of English-speaking separatist fighters.
Houses were also set on fire by the soldiers who said they were looking for the leader of an Ambazonian separatist fighters, commonly known as “General No Pity”.
Three of the fighters seeking an independent state known as Ambazonia in the English-speaking region of the country were killed in the shooting with soldiers, an eyewitness said.
Many civilians has fled the community after mass arrest were made by the army, which wreaked havoc on the community.
The army reportedly accused the killed and arrested civilians of not showing them the location of the separatist hideouts.
Kenyan athlete Tirop found dead with stab wounds
Record-breaking Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop was found dead Wednesday with stab wounds to her stomach in a suspected homicide, athletics officials said.
Tirop, 25, was a fast-rising athlete — a double world 10,000m bronze medallist and 2015 world cross county champion who also finished fourth in the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics this year.
Only last month, she smashed the women-only 10 km world record at the Road to Records Event in Germany, with a time of 30:01, slicing 28 seconds off the previous record, Athletics Kenya said.
Tirop also made history in 2015 when she became the second-youngest ever gold medallist in the women’s cross country championships after South Africa’s Zola Budd.
She was found dead at her home in the high altitude training town of Iten in western Kenya.
“Kenya has lost a jewel who was one of the fastest rising athletics giants on the international stage, thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track,” Athletics Kenya said in a statement.
“We are still working to unearth more details about her demise.”
– ‘A Kenyan hero’ –
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta paid tribute to the young athlete and urged the police to track down those behind her death.
“It is unsettling, utterly unfortunate and very sad that we’ve lost a young and promising athlete who, at a young age of 25 years, she had brought our country so much glory through her exploits on the global athletics stage,” he said in a statement.
“It is even more painful that Agnes, a Kenyan hero by all measures, painfully lost her young life through a criminal act perpetuated by selfish and cowardly people,” he said.
On Saturday, another Kenyan long-distance athlete Hosea Mwok Macharinyang, a member of the country’s record-breaking world cross country team, died of what Kenyan athletics officials said was suicide.
Macharinyang, 35, was found in his home in West Pokot in western Kenya.
“He was such a brilliant athlete, committed to the sport where he competed for Kenya for many years in both cross country and the 5,000m and 10,000m races,” Jackson Pkemoi, the West Pokot representative of Athletics Kenya, told AFP.
Macharinyang made a record eight appearances, and won three consecutive titles for Kenya in the World Cross Country Championships from 2006 to 2008.
Kenya is the most successful country in the cross country championships, having won 49 team and 27 individual titles.
Soldier, 3 others killed as gunmen attack checkpoint in Enugu
A personnel of the Nigerian military was killed on Friday when unidentified gunmen attacked a police checkpoint along the Okija-Onitsha highway in Enugu State.
Nigerian army spokesman Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, who confirmed the incident, said soldiers killed three of the gunmen while others fled with gunshot wounds.
“The gallant troops engaged and overwhelmed the gunmen with superior firepower, forcing them to flee the scene. Troops however gave them a hot pursuit, and engaged the gunmen in a gun duel.
“The 3 gunmen, who drove in 2 Vehicles ( a Hilux and Hummer bus), eventually succumbed to troops’ effective firepower, while others fled with gunshot wounds.
“Unfortunately, a soldier paid the supreme price, in the line of duty, for his country,” said Nwachukwu.
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