Prominent activist Min Ko Naing claimed the new administration is the most ethnically diverse yet, though Aung San Suu Kyi and Win Myint still hold the top posts.
The Committee Representing the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw today announced a new “national unity government” in defiance of the military regime, preserving a leading role for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as state counsellor while appointing an ethnically diverse cabinet.
The CRPH, led by ousted MPs from the National League for Democracy, also reconfirmed U Win Myint as president. Like Aung San Suu Kyi, Win Myint has been under house arrest since the February 1 coup and faces a barrage of criminal charges from the regime.
They are flanked by a vice president who is ethnic Kachin and a prime minister who is ethnic Karen, said Min Ko Naing, a veteran democracy activist, in an address on the CRPH’s official Facebook page.
“We have organised a government which has the largest number of ethnic minority groups,” he said.
Myanmar’s political fate has long been tightly controlled by the Bamar majority under a highly centralised state structure, and this domination largely continued under Aung San Suu Kyi’s ousted administration.
Besides Karen and Kachin leaders, the CRPH’s list of appointed ministers also includes prominent politicians from the Chin, Shanni, Mon, Karenni and Ta’ang ethnic groups.
They were chosen based on results from the November election, input from a nationwide anti-coup protest movement, and ethnic nationality leaders – including members of armed groups based in the borderlands, said Min Ko Naing.
“We have to pull it from the root… we must try to eradicate it,” he said, referring to the junta as he raised a three-finger salute – the symbol of resistance.
“Only the people can decide the future.”
The junta has said anyone working with the CRPH is committing “high treason” and has announced arrest warrants for hundreds of prominent activists and politicians – some of whom now hold positions in the new National Unity Government.
Raising the black flag
More than 720 people have been killed by security forces since the coup, according to local monitoring group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, while more than 3,100 are behind bars.
The latest detention came Thursday of prominent protest leader Ko Wai Moe Naing, who was arrested after a car rammed into his motorcycle as he was leading a protest through Monywa, the capital Sagaing Region, according to AFP-verified footage.
The violence has raised alarm among the international community, with the European Union set to impose more sanctions next week to raise pressure on the junta.
Meanwhile protesters have increasingly hardened their retaliatory tactics against security forces entering their towns.
In Mandalay Region’s Myingyan town, which has seen numerous bloody crackdowns against protesters since the coup, residents raised a black flag on Thursday – a signal that they would defend their areas from police and soldiers.
Overnight, two men were killed in a clash with security forces, said a Myingyan resident on Saturday.
“We went to their temporary bases to attack them with homemade bombs and guns, the resident said.
The sight of a black flag whipping on a pole has become increasingly common since the junta started deploying live ammunition against protesters in mid-March – with appearances first in Yangon’s hotspots of unrest.
“The black flag is a warning sign [of] defiance… the brutalities over peaceful protesters have pushed civilians to defend themselves with anything they have,” prominent activist Ma Thinzar Shunlei Yi told AFP.
A regional summit over Myanmar’s ongoing crisis is expected to convene this month for the 10-country bloc of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Cambodian premier Hun Sen announced today that he would travel to Jakarta for a “special ASEAN meeting” on April 24.
It remained unclear whether regime head Senior General Min Aung Hlaing would attend.