Myanmar's Resistance Forces Suggest Terms For The Military's Eventual Handover Of Power

In this provided by The Myanmar Military True News Information Team on Jan. 31, 2024, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of State Administration Council, speaks during meeting with members the National Defense and Security Council in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. (The Myanmar Military True News Information Team via AP)
In this provided by The Myanmar Military True News Information Team on Jan. 31, 2024, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, chairman of State Administration Council, speaks during meeting with members the National Defense and Security Council in Naypyitaw, Myanmar. (The Myanmar Military True News Information Team via AP)

BANGKOK (AP) — Myanmar’s leading resistance group and allied ethnic armed groups battling the military government on Wednesday released a political road map to ending military rule and enabling a peaceful transition of power, saying they were open to peace talks with the army if it accepted their terms.

The joint statement was released a day ahead of the third anniversary of the army’s seizure of power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, and the same day the government extended a state of emergency for another six months. The emergency decree empowers the military to assume all government functions.

The joint statement, posted on social media, was the clearest yet on the resistance movement's goals if it prevails in the civil war.

The military government had no immediate reaction.

Myanmar's political crisis was unleashed when the military took power and used deadly force to suppress widespread peaceful protests, triggering armed resistance throughout the country that the army has been unable to quell.

The new statement is from the National Unity Government, or NUG, established by elected lawmakers who were barred from taking their seats. It claims to be Myanmar’s legitimate government. The other signers are the Chin National Front, the Karenni National Progressive Party and the Karen National Union, all in active combat against the military government.

The joint statement's objectives include terminating the military's involvement in politics, placing all armed forces under the command of an elected civilian government, promulgating a new constitution embodying federalism and democratic values, establishing a new federal democratic union and instituting a system of transitional justice.

Forming a federal union has long been a goal of ethnic minority groups that would like to have more self-rule in areas where they are dominant.

The statement calls for dialogue with the military’s leadership, but only after it shows its unconditional acceptance of its plan for the termination of military rule and peaceful transition of power.

The military government regularly describes the NUG as a terrorist organization, declaring it and other resistance groups illegal, making contacts with them illegal and discouraging even third parties seeking to promote peace from meeting with such groups.

The document is meant more as reassurance for third parties about the resistance's intentions than an offer to open talks, Tin Tun Naing, the NUG’s minister for the planning, finance and investment, told The Associated Press.

A recent offensive by a separate group of ethnic armed organizations calling themselves the Three Brotherhood Alliance seized control of strategic parts of northeastern Myanmar, exposing army weakness and sparking resistance attacks in other parts of the country.

Even before its recent battlefield defeats, the military government has acknowledged instability hindering its control over large swaths of territory.