World

Panic-buying after Myanmar military seizes power

Aung San Suu Kyi detained, Internet and mobile services pulled

YANGON: There was panic-buying of food, military road blocks in the capital Naypyidaw and a triumphant pro-army rally in Yangon in the hours after a coup in Myanmar yesterday.

But there was also quiet anger simmering among those whose hopes for the country's democratic future have been stolen.

"It's extremely upsetting - I don't want the coup," said a 64-year-old Burmese man in Hlaing township.

"I have seen many transitions in this country, and I was looking forward to a better future."

A putsch was expected, yet when it came it left Myanmar stunned - with roads to its main international airport blocked and communications cut.

Myanmar's military detained Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi along with other leaders of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party in early morning raids hours before a newly elected Parliament dominated by the NLD was expected to take its seats for the first time since November polls.

The army said it had carried out the detentions in response to "election fraud", handing power to military chief Min Aung Hlaing and imposing a state of emergency for one year.

Ms Suu Kyi's party published comments on Facebook that it said had been written in anticipation of a coup, quoting her as saying people should protest against the military takeover.

By 8.30am, the emergency was announced and former general Myint Swe appointed acting president - sinking the country back into military rule after a barely decade-long experiment with democracy.

Fear spread as Internet and mobile services were pulled by the authorities across the country.

In Yangon, people rushed to their neighbourhood grocery stores to stock up on rice, oil and instant noodles.

But aside from police, uniformed men were few and far between in the city, and no blood was shed.

GRAVE CONCERN

Singapore yesterday expressed "grave concern" over the political crisis in Myanmar.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and hope all parties involved will exercise restraint, maintain dialogue, and work towards a positive and peaceful outcome," said a spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Myanmar is a close friend of Singapore and key member of Asean. We hope that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible." - AFP, REUTERS, THE STRAITS TIMES

WORLD