Myanmar has lost a senior military commander to a coup attempt and a major ally has backed down from an anti-government movement that it accused of being a coup.
The military chief who was ousted on Friday is widely considered to be the man who led a campaign of violence that killed thousands in the past year, while his ally, the former prime minister, Aung San Suu Kyi, was toppled by a military-backed military-civilian alliance led by a group of former military officers.
Aung San, who was in power for 13 years, has been seen as a moderate who has supported reform in Myanmar.
A new military chief was also named on Friday to take over as Myanmar’s interim prime minister.
The army-backed alliance led a coup in April, which led to Suu, who had led a pro-democracy movement, being removed as president.
The government in Washington and Beijing have been pressuring Suu and her government for years to reform their relationship and seek greater democratic participation.
In response, Myanmar’s parliament on Friday voted to create a civilian government in the country, and the military-led alliance has vowed to hold elections in 2018.
The coup comes as the military and its allies have stepped up a campaign to oust Suu from power, seizing control of the country’s main parliament and military.
The U.S. Embassy in Naypyitaw said in a statement on Friday that the ambassador had conveyed his concern to the Government of Myanmar.
“We call on the Government to quickly restore order and respect for the rule of law,” the embassy said in the statement.
The foreign ministry said the United States was deeply concerned about the events in Myanmar and urged Myanmar to respect the rule and territorial integrity of all nations and to refrain from further military aggression against Myanmar.
The United States has expressed concern about the ongoing violence in Myanmar, calling for a swift end to the violence and to the implementation of the international norm against impunity, it said in an emailed statement.
“The United State condemns in the strongest terms the brutal and unlawful actions of the armed forces of Myanmar and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and the immediate restoration of political rights,” it said.
The country’s armed forces are battling the military alliance that took control of government buildings, airports and government ministries, as well as protesters who had sought Suu’s ouster.
The latest moves to oust the Suu government came hours after a statement by a spokesman for the army said that he was “appalled by the events” and that it was “shocked” by the coup attempt.
He called for calm and said that “the army is not going to allow any escalation in the situation and it will continue to defend Myanmar from external attacks”.
In a televised address, the army chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, said he had taken command of the army, which he said had been “stopped” from attacking civilians by “terrorists and foreign elements” in the aftermath of the coup.
“I do not want to say who this foreign element is or where they come from, but I have taken command,” Min Auk Hlain told a televised news conference.
“My army will not let anyone hurt the country and we will not allow any violence or terror to break out.”
“My Army is committed to protecting the nation and upholding the law,” he said.
Military sources told Reuters news agency on Friday they were not aware of any plan to launch a coup, and it was not clear if the coup would succeed.
A military spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Reuters