Myanmar’s military has taken control of the country after detaining de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other politicians in the early hours.
Military TV said a state of emergency had been declared for one year and power transferred.
The coup comes after tensions rose between the civilian government and the military following a disputed election.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, was ruled by the military until democratic reforms began in 2011.
The military said on Monday it was handing power to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing because of “election fraud”. Soldiers are on the streets of the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, and the main city, Yangon.
In November’s election, Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won enough seats to form a government.
image captionMilitary chief Min Aung Hlaing is now in power
The United States has condemned the coup, saying Washington “opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for the release of all government officials and civil society leaders and said the US “stands with the people of Burma in their aspirations for democracy, freedom, peace, and development. The military must reverse these actions immediately”.
media captionUN special rapporteur for Myanmar Tom Andrews on the coup
In Australia, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said “we call on the military to respect the rule of law, to resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms and to release immediately all civilian leaders and other who have been detained unlawfully.”
So it’s official. The armed forces in Myanmar have confirmed that they have carried out a coup d’etat, their first against a civilian government since 1962, and in apparent violation of the constitution which the military promised to honour as recently as last Saturday.
The grievances which have been driving tension between the military and the government are well enough known. The military-backed party, the USDP, performed poorly in last November’s general election, whereas the NLD did even better than in 2015.
The timing of this coup is also easily explained. This week the first session of parliament since the election was due to start, which would have enshrined the election result by approving the next government. That will no longer happen.
But the military’s longer game plan is hard to fathom. What do they plan to do in the year they have given themselves to run the country? There will be public anger over a coup so soon after an election in which 70% of voters defied the Covid-19 pandemic to vote so overwhelmingly for Aung San Suu Kyi.
Famously stubborn, she is unlikely to co-operate with a gun held to her head. Her ally, President Win Myint, is the only person authorised under the constitution to enact a state of emergency. He has been detained with her.
For the moment the military’s action appears reckless, and puts Myanmar on a perilous path.
Mobile internet data connections and some phone services have been disrupted in major cities, while the state broadcaster MRTV says it is having technical issues and is off air.
Communications with Nay Pyi Taw are down and it is difficult to assess the situation there.
In the country’s largest city and former capital Yangon, phone lines and internet connectivity appear to be limited, with many providers cutting their services.
whisper eye news, as well as other international broadcasters are blocked while local stations are off air.
People have been seen lining up at ATM’s in Yangon amid expectations of a cash crunch in the coming days.