Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party plans to form an “interim government” to compete with the country’s military junta and seeks official recognition of the new US body from the UK and the UN.
Sa Sa, an official who was appointed envoy of Myanmar’s dissolved parliament to the UN, outlined the plans in a video interview with the Financial Times.
He accused other Southeast Asian countries of “failing to stand by the people of Myanmar” after Thai and Indonesian officials met this week a representative of the junta that ousted the civilian government in a coup this month.
“The good neighbors shouldn’t play games with the coup leaders who have smoking guns,” Sa Sa said. “They shouldn’t have any dialogue unless they release our elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi. ”
His remarks point to an increasingly serious effort by the remnants of Myanmar’s overthrown government to put in place structures to compete with Min Aung Hlaing’s junta and engage with the international community.
However, they will face serious challenges from Myanmar’s changing military and diplomatic realities as its Asian neighbors begin to make contact with the junta.
On Friday, the new regime, which arrested most of the top NLD leaders and seized power on February 1, officially canceled the results of an election in November in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s party held won a landslide victory.
But later on Friday at the UN, the protest movement received powerful and surprising approval when Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s official ambassador to the world, denounced the coup in a speech to the General Assembly. . He promised loyalty to the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi and urged the world to “use all means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military”.
“Clearly we don’t want to go back to the system we were in before,” he said, holding up three fingers at the end of his salute speech used by democracy protesters in Myanmar and in neighboring Thailand.
During coup week, NLD lawmakers who avoided arrest set up a committee representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) – the ousted parliament, and held their own swearing-in ceremony.
The CRPH Tuesday appointed Sa Sa, physician and philanthropist, as his envoy to the UN and Htin Lin Aung, a former political prisoner based in Maryland, United States, as his representative for international relations.
While most NLD MPs are now either under arrest or “on the run,” Sa Sa said, the CRPH still planned to take the risk of setting up a temporary government inside the country. “For the sake of the people of Myanmar”.
“We will work closely with the international community and work with China and India,” he said. “It’s better for them to have a stable neighbor than an unstable neighbor.”
The official declined to say where he was speaking from for security reasons except to say it was outside Myanmar, but “very close”.
While the United States and some other Western countries condemned the coup and announced sanctions against the generals, Myanmar Asian neighbors, who have closer economic ties, have been more cautious in their rhetoric and actions, as with the old military regimes.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the regional grouping of 10 members, is positioning itself as a mediator, with Indonesia playing a leading role.
Junta Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin flew to Thailand on Wednesday to meet Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, himself a former coup leader. Retno Masudi, Indonesia’s Foreign Minister, also spoke briefly with the junta official at Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport, after which she expressed concern for “the safety and well-being of the population of Myanmar ”.
Reports of preliminary diplomatic overtures infuriated protesters in Yangon who demonstrated outside the Indonesian Embassy this week.
“We don’t want any Asian or foreign country dealing with the coup leaders right now,” Sa Sa said. “They should be working with us.”
Sa Sa, whose name given by his grandmother means “superior superior”, is a Christian and a member of Myanmar’s Chin ethnic minority in a predominantly Buddhist and Burmese country.
He was well on his way to a leadership position in government. But after the coup, he said his job would be “to keep everyone free and the democratic world with us”.
“Our actions today will be part of tomorrow’s history,” he said.