The country’s military launched a coup and declared a state of emergency set to last one year. Myanmar – also known as Burma – has seen tensions between its Government and the military following an election last year. Now, the US has said it is “alarmed” by the military’s move to take power, as well as detain national leaders including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
In a statement, White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki said: “We continue to affirm our strong support for Burma’s democratic institutions and, in coordination with our regional partners, urge the military and all other parties to adhere to democratic norms and the rule of law, and to release those detained today.
“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed.”
It is understood that US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the situation by the country’s new national security advisor Jake Sullivan.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday expressed “grave concern and alarm” over reports.
“We call on Burmese military leaders to release all government officials and civil society leaders and respect the will of the people of Burma as expressed in democratic elections on November 8,” he said.
Australia has also hit out at the coup, with Marise Payne, the country’s foreign affairs minister, calling on the military to “release immediately all civilian leaders and others who have been detained unlawfully”.
Power has now been handed to commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.
On the ground, soldiers are said to be occupying the streets of the country’s capital Naypyitaw as well as its main city of Yangon.
Civilians have reported issues with communications networks and phone lines and internet access is said to be limited.
It is also unclear whether or not banks will be opening and there are reports of ATMs not working.