Coup meaning: What is a coup? What is happening with de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi?

Myanmar: Voters queue to cast ballots in 2020 election

Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been arrested by the country’s armed forces in a pre-dawn raid. The country’s military said it had declared a state of emergency and would take control of the country for one year, in what UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as an unlawful coup. But what does this mean?

What is a coup?

A coup is described by the Cambridge Dictionary as “a sudden illegal, often violent, taking of government power, especially by part of an army”.

The term is also known as a ‘coup d’état’ – which Merriam Webster dictionary describes as “a sudden decisive exercise of force in politics”.

The definition adds the word especially covers “the violent overthrow or alteration of an existing government by a small group.”

EXPLAINED: Myanmar coup: What is happening in Myanmar?

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What does de facto mean?

According to Merriam Webster, de facto means: “Being such in effect though not formally recognised.”

For example, you could be in a de facto war, without war being officially declared.

In terms of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi was the de facto leader after her National League for Democracy party won the November elections.

But the military claims there were “huge discrepancies” in the country’s vote, demanding they will now take charge for up to a year.

What is happening to Aung San Suu Kyi?

Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other NLD leaders were “taken” in the early hours of the morning as the military carried out dawn raids across Myanmar, according to NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt.

The army said it had carried out the detentions in response to “election fraud” from the November 2020 vote.

The coup has seen power handed to military chief Min Aung Hlaing, along with the imposing a state of emergency for one year, according to a statement on a military-owned television station.

A verified NLD Facebook page has quoted Ms Suu Kyi as saying such army actions would put Myanmar “back under a dictatorship”. The statement added: “I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military.”

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