YANGON: Myanmar’s shadow government, formed by opponents of military rule, on Tuesday involved a nationwide uprising against the junta amid reports of latest protests and a flare-up in fighting between the military and ethnic military groups.
Duwa Lashi La, acting president of the National Unity Government (NUG), said the shadow government was launching a “people’s defensive war”, signalling during a speech what seemed to be a bid for greater coordination of armed militias and ethnic forces after months of fighting the military.
Military spokesman Zaw Min Tun dismissed the NUG’s involve revolt. it had been an effort to realize international attention and recognition from the United Nations General Assembly later this month and wouldn’t succeed, he said.
Myanmar’s military toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb 1, triggering a wave of protests by pro-democracy supporters, and resulting in many deaths as security forces tried to quell the demonstrations.
Some opponents of military rule have formed armed groups, under the banner of the People’s Defence Forces, and have forged alliances with some ethnic militias that have long seen Myanmar’s army as their enemy.
Declaring a state of emergency, Duwa Lashi La involved a “revolt against the rule of the military terrorists led by Min Aung Hlaing in every corner of the country.” Myanmar’s military ruler Min Aung Hlaing last month took on the role of prime minister during a newly formed caretaker government and pledged to carry new elections by 2023.
The junta has branded the NUG — made from members in exile or doggo — and People’s Defence Forces as terrorist groups.
Military-appointed administrators should “immediately leave their positions”, Duwa Lashi La said in his 14-point speech, urging members of the safety forces to hitch pro-democracy militias and for ethnic groups in border areas to attack the military.
“We need to initiate a nationwide uprising in every village, town, and city in the entire country at an equivalent time,” said Duwa Lashi La.
Military spokesman Zaw Min Tun said the NUG was trying to destabilize the country, including disrupting a national coronavirus vaccination program, but it had been heading for failure.
“They are working to bring the international attention back,” said Zaw Min Tun, consistent with the Telegram channel of army-owned Myawaddy TV. He also accused media groups of “spreading fake news” on things in Myanmar.
Soon after February’s coup, a direct action movement tried to undermine the military rule.
Hastily formed militias have skirmished regularly with the military, although often appear to be operating independently. it’s also unclear what proportion coordination there’s among ethnic forces that are fighting the military for many years.
The NUG’s announcement on Tuesday seemed to prompt some panic buying. A video on social media showed what it said was a rush to shop for essentials during a supermarket within the country’s business hub of Yangon.
There were also reports of fighting in border areas, including between the military and soldiers of the Karen National Union (KNU), consistent with a post by the Karen Information Center on social media.
Anti-military street protests also broke calls at the Dawei area of southern Myanmar and in Kalay within the Sagaing Region, photographs posted by Myanmar Now news outlets showed.
The escalation in tensions comes because the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been leading diplomatic efforts to finish the violence and open a dialogue between the military rulers and their opponents.
Asean’s envoy to Myanmar, Erywan Yusof, said in an interview with the Kyodo press agency at the weekend that the military had accepted his proposal for a ceasefire until the top of the year to make sure distribution of humanitarian aid.
A military spokesman couldn’t be reached to discuss the ceasefire.
A pro-democracy activist and another member of the NUG said the junta couldn’t be trusted to honor such a deal.