Opponents of Myanmar’s junta set up a national unity government

Opponents of Myanmar’s junta on Friday announced the formation of a national unity government, which includes banned legislators, members of ethnic minority groups and people in the anti-coup protest, according to a video extracted on Public Voice Television.

The announcement was made on the Facebook page of the opposition Public Voice Television, which published a video excerpt of veteran Myanmar’s democracy activist Min Ko Naing.

“Please welcome the people’s government,” Min Ko Naing said in a 10-address Burmese address.

A second post appointed the heads of 15 senior positions in the National Unity Administration with the country’s ousted president, U Win Myint, and the imprisoned opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who retained his posts before the coup.

It also appointed heads of various ministries in opposition, from the Ministry of Defense and Home Affairs (Ministry of the Interior) to a “Ministry of International Cooperation”.

In a Twitter post, the Unity Government’s Minister for International Cooperation, Dr Sasa, who goes by a name, said that he “humbly accepted” responsibility for his new post.

Statement by Dr Sasa I am proud to have been asked to serve as the Union’s Minister for International Cooperation and as the Spokesman for Myanmar’s National Unity Government. I have humbly accepted this responsibility. We will win pic.twitter.com/xP0pCBz48t

– Dr Sasa (@ DrSasa22222) April 16, 2021

In his speech, Min Ko Naing said that the will of the people was the priority of the unity government, while acknowledging the scope of the task.

“We are trying to get this out of the roots so we have to sacrifice a lot,” he said, referring to the junta.

An unhappy union

The coup in Myanmar on February 1 opened an unexpected window of opportunity for the various ethnic rebel garments, which have no loyalty to either the junta or Suu Kyi to unite in opposition to the army’s government.

>> Read more: Myanmar’s ethnic groups unite in the fight against the army

Myanmar stretches from the tropical coast of the Bay of Bengal to temperate mountain ranges bordering China and is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse countries. But the dominant ethnic group Bamar has long marginalized ethnic minority groups, many of them based on borders.

Myanmar has 133 officially recognized minority ethnic groups – as well as other groups, such as the Rohingyas, which are not officially recognized.

Read more: Myanmar’s unhappy union sees multiethnic national dream slip

For many ethnic minorities, Suu Kyi’s administration has been more of an enemy than a friend.

While each ethnic group has its own requirements, everyone wants a version of federalism that gives them at least some degree of autonomy.

Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) once offered them in exchange for electoral support, but leaders in ethnic communities say that little came of it.

“The Bamar majority has made such a promise from time to time, without it being realized,” Khu Oo Reh of the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP) told AFP.

Silent strike

While the politicians announced the unity government, other opponents of the military government observed a “silent strike” that stayed home to mourn the killed or dressed blacks in small marches in several towns and cities.

Streets in the capital Yangon were largely deserted, residents said, while black-clad protesters held small rallies in half a dozen cities and towns, media reported.

There were no immediate reports of violence but overnight two people were shot and killed in central Myingyan city, Radio Free Asia reported.

The military has also compiled its critics and has published the names of more than 200 people in demand under a law that makes it illegal to encourage mutiny or conscription in the armed forces.

Two prominent protest organizers were arrested on Thursday along with an actor and singer, both known for speaking out against the coup.

In another display of defiance, a previously unknown group called the Ayeyarwaddy Federal Army said on Facebook that it aimed to fight the military to restore an elected government and protect the people and that it required volunteers.

It gave no details on how it was intended to receive the well-equipped and experienced army.

The unrest has worried Myanmar’s neighbors in Southeast Asia, who have tried to encourage talks between the rival sides.

Southeast Asian leaders will meet in Indonesia on April 24 to discuss the situation, Thai and Indonesian media reported. Junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing would attend, a Thai broadcaster said, but Jakarta Post said it had not been confirmed whether the summit would include representatives of the junta or the previous government.

However, Sasa said ASEAN should not invite “chief assassin” Min Aung Hlaing to the summit.

( Jowharwith AFP and REUTERS)

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