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Radio Free Asia

Aung San Suu Kyi, Ruling Party Leaders Arrested in Sweeping Myanmar Military Crackdown

2021-01-31 -- Myanmar's military has arrested leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's president, and state ministers in wave of detentions of ruling National League for Democracy figures an early Monday morning that followed rising tensions over disputed 2020 election results, an NLD spokesman said.

"We have heard that the military has been arresting people from our party, and that it has detained the State Counselor and the President," NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt told RFA's Myanmar Service.

Picked up in detentions launched hours before the new parliament was slated to convene Feb. 1 were State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint, and the state ministers from the region of Yangon, the country's largest city, and Shan, Kayin, and Mon states, he said.

"Han Thar Myint and Thein Lwin, members of the NLD CEC are detained, too. I am waiting for their arrest now," said Myo Nyunt, referring to the party's Central Executive Committee. He did not elaborate on the grounds for the arrests.

"They will give the excuse that they have arrested us over the alleged voting fraud case. We want everything to be in line with the law. Since they are an armed group, they can do whatever they want," the spokesman added.

There was no immediate statement from the military, while the number and whereabouts of the detained politicians were not immediately clear.

The military, which had called on the government to postpone the convening of parliament, also arrested MPs, political activists and student leaders, sources told RFA.

"I am detained," Mya Aye, a 1988 democracy movement activist and leader of the group Federal Democratic Forces, posted on his Facebook a few minutes before his account was deactivated at dawn on Monday.

The BBC' reported that there were soldiers on the streets of the capital, Naypyitaw, and Yangon, and that telephone and internet lines in Naypyitaw have been cut.

Monday's detentions followed a string of veiled threats of a coup by Myanmar's military last week over claims of voting fraud in the Nov. 8 elections, which the NLD swept in an outcome confirmed by electoral authorities.

Aung San Suu Kyi, a 75-year-old Nobel laureate who has spent nearly two decades under house arrest, was set to launch her second five-year term in late March.

The army and its political proxy, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), have contended for weeks that there was widespread voter fraud and have increased pressure on the Union Election Commission (UEC) to investigate. Neither the military nor the USDP have submitted any evidence of actual voter fraud, but they have raised questions about outdated voter lists and other problems.

In response to talk about a coup, the UEC issued a statement on Thursday insisting that elections were devoid of fraud as alleged by the military, despite some voter list errors which it said it would investigate.

Intervention by the military is troubling to many in Myanmar, which endured brutal, corrupt military rule and international pariah status from 1962 to 2011, when it began a transition to democratic rule.

"The doors just opened to a very different future," said Thant Myint-U of the NGO Burma Campaign UK. "I have a sinking feeling that no one will really be able to control what comes next."

The apparent coup "needs to be met with the strongest international response. The military need to be made to understand that they have made a major miscalculation in thinking they can get away with this," he said on Twitter.

Reported by RFA's Myanmar Service. Written in English by Paul Eckert.

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