By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who became the controversial de facto leader of Myanmar, has been detained under house arrest by the military in an apparent coup, her party confirmed.
The military, which ruled the Asian nation for nearly five decades, had this week refused to rule out seizing power over its claims of voter fraud in November’s elections. The ballot was won by Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, results showed.
Myo Nyunt, the spokesman for the NLD, said in published remarks that Suu Kyi, along with President Win Myint, had been “detained” in the capital Naypyidaw. “We heard they were taken by the military,” he told French News Agency AFP. He added that he was extremely worried about the pair. “With the situation, we see happening now; we have to assume that the military is staging a coup.”
The NLD swept the polls in Myanmar, also known as Burma, and was expecting to renew the 75-year-old leader’s lease on power with a new five-year term. Suu Kyi captured 396 out of 476 seats in the combined lower and upper houses of Parliament, far above the 322 needed to secure a majority.
But the army-drafted constitution of 2008 grants the military 25 percent of the total seats, enough to block constitutional changes.
Several key ministerial positions are also reserved for military appointees.
Last week, military chief General Min Aung Hlaing — arguably the country’s most powerful individual — said the country’s 2008 constitution could be “revoked” under certain circumstances.
Min Aung Hlaing’s remarks amid already increasing tensions over talk of an imminent coup — reportedly raised the alarm within Myanmar, as well as from more than a dozen foreign missions and the United Nations.
The last time Myanmar saw its constitution repealed was in 1962 and 1988 — when the military seized power and reinstated a junta government. Suu Kyi remains popular though the former democracy icon’s international image suffered over her handling of the Muslim Rohingya refugee crisis and a crackdown on critical journalists.
The 75-year-old Suu Kyi is by far the country’s most dominant politician and became the country’s leader after leading a decades-long nonviolent struggle against military rule. She spent 20 years off and on under house arrest related to her role as opposition leader before the military released her in 2010.
U.S. officials at the National Security Council and the State Department said they were aware of the alleged coup. But they but could not confirm a coup and detentions happened. Communications to Myanmar’s capital were cut off, several reporters said.
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