Coup feared in Myanmar as army detains politicians, civil leaders

Yangon, Myanmar, Feb 1 (efe-epa).- Myanmar’s army arrested several politicians, ruling party members and civilian leaders Monday, stoking fears of a rumored military coup.

Relatives of some of the detainees, including prominent members of the National League for Democracy Party (LND), headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, reported the arrests, while telephone lines remained cut, although the internet still worked.

Soldiers also took control of public television station MRTV, the media noted in a Facebook message to which thousands of users responded with the tags #SaveBurma (as Myanmar was formerly known) and #WeNeedDemocracy among others.

Military personnel also appeared at one of the telecommunication companies that operate in the country.

The army, which through a succession of military junta ruled the country for almost half a century, rejected the rumors Saturday and guaranteed its commitment to upholding the constitution in a statement.

This temporarily quelled rumors of a coup that intensified since Tuesday, when military spokesman Zaw Min Tun refused to rule out a forced power takeover after denouncing alleged irregularities in the Nov. 8 legislative elections.

Suu Kyi’s landslide electoral victory showcased her great popularity in Myanmar, despite her bad international reputation for policies against the Rohingya minority, many of whom are denied citizenship and vote, among other rights.

On Wednesday, Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing said in a speech to military personnel that the Constitution should be abolished if it is not complied with, interpreted as a veiled threat in a country ruled under a dictatorship from 1962 to 2011, when democracy was established.

Alleged irregularities were first denounced by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the now-dissolved party created by the previous military.

The Electoral Commission has denied electoral fraud in the November elections, won overwhelmingly by the National League for Democracy with an 83-percent majority of the Legislature’s 476 seats.

The USDP was the big loser in the election, winning only 33 seats, and has refused to accept the results, even calling for new elections organized by the army to be held.

The military, who drafted the current constitution in a roadmap to achieve a “disciplined democracy,” exercises great power in the country, holding 25 percent of the seats in parliament and the influential Ministries of the Interior, Borders and Defence. EFE-EPA


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