Pro-democracy activists in Myanmar are holding a “silent strike” to mark two years since a military coup.
Protesters have urged the public to remain indoors and for businesses to close for Wednesday’s anniversary.
The call came as the UK, US, Canada and Australia announced fresh sanctions against army-linked firms.
The military has said the country is facing “unusual circumstances” – prompting fresh doubt over its pledge to hold an election this year.
Tayzar San, a prominent activist, said in a Facebook post that the strike was being conducted to provide proof that the “public does not accept… the rigged election” that the military was planning.
Images showed deserted streets in major cities, including the commercial centre of Yangon.
Two years after a coup which catastrophically misread the public mood in Myanmar, the statistics tell their own, dismal story.
More than 2,900 people have been killed during the junta’s crackdown on dissent, according to monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
One-and-a-half million people have been displaced, 40,000 homes have been burned down, eight million children are no longer in school, and 15 million people are judged by the UN to be dangerously short of food.
Much of the country is caught up in a brutal civil war. Yet the military is still refusing to negotiate with its opponents, as it promised to do in a meeting with neighbouring countries shortly after the coup.
Instead, it has plans for an election which would almost certainly exclude Aung San Suu Kyi, who resoundingly won the last election, and much of her party, the National League for Democracy.
Those loyal to her are calling on citizens to boycott any poll organised by the military, arguing it would be illegitimate and impractical. The UN says these would be “sham elections”. (BBC)