Myanmar’s military leader stages coup after disputing election loss, declares year-long emergency rule

by Peter Heck · Feb 2nd, 2021 8:37 am
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Last Updated Feb 3rd, 2021 at 10:17 am

Angry over national election results, long-time military Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing staged a coup Monday, detaining the nation's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. Hlaing has declared a one-year state of emergency, which he will preside over, and has ordered an immediate investigation into voting irregularities.

Hlaing has been a life-long soldier, slowly moving his way up the ranks of Myanmar's influential military, the Tatmadaw. After a series of promotions, the 64-year-old took over as Commander-in-Chief of the Tatmadaw in 2011. That same year, the country of Myanmar transitioned from decades of military rule into democracy. As Hlaing maintained his grip on control of the military, his Tatmadaw-supported Union Solidarity and Development political party (USDP) led the newly democratized government.

Five years later, however, democracy-activist and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a majority of seats in national elections. As Kyi took control of the government, Hlaing maintained the appearance of unity.

In 2016 and 2017, the Hlaing-led Tatmadaw military began a brutal crackdown on ethnic minorities in Myanmar, earning condemnation from the UN Human Rights Council, which called for Hlaing to be prosecuted for genocide. The United States sanctioned Hlaing twice in 2019 for "ethnic cleansing."

Then last November, when Hlaing's party was soundly defeated by Kyi's NLD in national elections, the Tatmadaw military began actively disputing the results. Hlaing's USDP claimed widespread voter fraud, even as independent commissions dismissed the accusations.

Rumors of a coming coup have been circulated throughout Myanmar for weeks in the lead-up to the official February 1 seating of parliament.

His military-supported USDP has declared that under Hlaing's leadership, they have invalidated the results of the November election and are commissioning a new one.

Hlaing was expected to step down this year, but with his declaration of a one-year state emergency, experts say it is apparent that Myanmar is slipping back into military rule with the general in charge for the foreseeable future.


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