Myanmar's military announced Monday that it has seized power and will rule the country for at least one year after detaining its top political leaders.
The military declared a state of emergency, detaining State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other senior members of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party just hours before the scheduled start of the first session of the new parliament.
It claimed the moves were being carried out due to "voter fraud" in the Nov. 8 elections which resulted in the dominance of Suu Kyi's NLD party in parliament. Critics say the military used the voter fraud allegations to justify the coup.
The military also announced that Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing has been installed as the country's president.
The detention of top political figures follows days of rising tensions between the military and civilian government, said NLD spokesperson Myo Nyunt.
"I want to tell our people not to respond rashly and I want them to act according to the law," Nyunt had said right after the arrests.
He added that he also expects to be detained.
As debate continued in the country over the results of the November last year elections, the army's chief of staff announced on Jan. 27 that the Constitution could be terminated if election laws were not properly enforced.
In the cities of the capital Naypyidaw and in Yangon, soldiers descended on the streets early on Monday as telephone and internet lines were cut off in Naypyidaw.
In addition, the families of ministers in 14 regions said the ministers had been "taken" from their homes by soldiers.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement on Friday that Guterres was "following with great concern the latest developments" in the Southeast Asian country, urging all parties to "refrain from all forms of provocation, respect the results of the Nov. 8 general election and adhere to democratic norms."
Chief of staff: Constitution can be repealed
Myanmar's Election Commission has denied allegations by the military of election rigging, resulting in the victory of Suu Kyi's party on Jan. 29.
Myanmar's military chief Hlaing had said last week that the Constitution could be dissolved if election laws were not properly enforced.
A later statement on Saturday by the army, also known as the Tatmadaw, had claimed Hlaing's statement was not a threat of a "coup."
In November last year, the main opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), had voiced support for the military, calling for a recount.
Led by Suu Kyi, the NLD won 346 seats in the 642-seat National Assembly, reaching a majority capable of forming a government.
The USDP came in second with 25 seats, while the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) party, which represents ethnic groups in Shan state, came in third with 15.
In Myanmar, a constitution drafted by the military in 2008 prevents the ruling party from gaining control of parliament.
The army appoints a quota of 25% of parliament seats and exerts direct control over the government through its control over some key ministries.
Bicameral Myanmar's Senate consists of 224 seats, while the House of Representatives has 440 members.
Nigel Adams, Britain's Minister of State for Asia, said elections in Myanmar were blocked in areas with minorities and that Myanmar officials should hold free and fair elections at the first opportunity.
The EU also called on the Myanmar government to include all ethnic, religious and minority groups, including Rohingya Muslims, in the democratic process in the country.
In the Nov. 8 elections, there were 37 million voters, 5 million of whom voted for the first time, while around 7,000 candidates competed for seats in a total of 1,171 national and local councils.