YANGON: Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior figures from the ruling party have been detained in an early morning raid, the spokesman for the governing National League for Democracy said on Monday (Feb 1).
The move comes after days of escalating tension between the civilian government and the powerful military that stirred fears of a coup in the aftermath of an election the army says was fraudulent.
Spokesman Myo Nyunt told Reuters by phone that Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other leaders were "taken" in the early hours of the morning.
"I want to tell our people not to respond rashly and I want them to act according to the law," he said, adding he also expected to be detained.
An NLD lawmaker, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, said another of those detained was Han Thar Myint, a member of the party's central executive committee.
The United States has since urged Myanmar's military to release the detained officials, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and warned of a response from Washington over the apparent coup.
"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," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
We "urge the military and all other parties to adhere to democratic norms and the rule of law, and to release those detained today," she added.
Phone lines to Naypyitaw, the capital, were not reachable in the early hours of Monday. Parliament had been due to start sitting there on Monday after a November election that the NLD had won in a landslide.
Myanmar state media MRTV said it was having technical issues and was unable to broadcast.
"Due to current communication difficulties we'd like to respectfully inform you that the regular programmes of MRTV and Myanmar Radio cannot be broadcast," it said on a post on its Facebook page.
There were also reports that mobile data connections and some phone services were disrupted in Myanmar's main city Yangon.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, came to power after a 2015 landslide election win that followed decades of house arrest in a struggle for democracy that turned her into an international icon.
Her international standing was damaged after hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas fled army operations into refuge from Myanmar's western Rakhine state in 2017, but she remains hugely popular at home.
The NLD won a landslide in last November's election, hammering a pro-military party.
Myanmar's military had said on Saturday it would protect and abide by the constitution and act according to law after comments earlier in the week had raised fears of a coup.
Myanmar's election commission has rejected the military's allegations of vote fraud, saying there were no errors big enough to affect the credibility of the vote.
The constitution reserves 25 per cent of seats in parliament for the military and control of three key ministries in Aung San Suu Kyi's administration.