Chris Sidoti: The Tatmadaw may find itself very quickly overstretched

March 31st, 2021  •  Category News

Chris Sidoti comments on the ability of the Tatmadaw to manage multiple conflicts at once in Bloomberg News

Ousted Myanmar Parliament Plans National Unity Government

By Bloomberg News

Myanmar’s parliament, ousted by the military Feb. 1, plans to set up a national unity government in the first week of April, according to a statement by a parallel administration of key allies of detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The new government will be a coalition of all democratic forces under the terms of the Federal Democracy Charter and a collective leadership, according to Wednesday’s statement. The caretaker vice president, Mahn Win Khaing Than, and acting ministers “will continue to carry out their responsibilities before the formation of the government.”

Mahn Win Khaing GETTY sub

Mahn Win Khaing Than

Photographer: Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images

The announcement came as the United Nations Security Council met on Wednesday to discuss the deteriorating situation in which at least 536 people have been killed by security forces.

While the UN’s special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, said a firm and unified international response was needed in a country “on the verge of spiraling into a failed state,” China maintained its opposition to uniform sanctions.

“One-sided pressure and calling for sanctions or other coercive measures will only aggravate tension and confrontation and further complicate the situation, which is by no means constructive,” China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, said in a statement released after the meeting.

Clashes between protesters and security forces intensified over the weekend while the military has carried out military operations including air strikes against rebel ethnic groups, stoking fears of a full-fledged civil war. Tatmadaw, as the military is known, on Wednesday night announced a one-month, unilateral ceasefire that does not apply to those seeking to disrupt national security and administrative operations.

Constitution Blueprint

Prioritizing the end of dictatorship, the unity government will be composed of a president, state counselor — a post previously held by Suu Kyi — two vice presidents, a premier, ministers and deputies. Additionally, it will cede greater power to state leaders, placing them above union ministers.

The parliament also declared the abolition of Junta’s 2008 Constitution with immediate effect, and approved the 20-page Federal Democracy Charter, a blueprint for drafting a new constitution through a national referendum.

“The 2008 constitution was not only drafted to prolong the military dictatorship, but also deters the emergence of a federal democratic union,” reads the statement by the parallel administration known as the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, or CRPH.

The new charter, which represents a broad-based consensus, will play a key role in the new government, according to the statement. The military junta had earlier declared the committee to be unlawful, and threatened legal action against anyone interacting with it under the colonial-era Unlawful Association Act.

While it’s unclear which ethnic groups will join the unity government in a country that has endured decades of armed conflict, a combined front against the Tatmadaw could see renewed violence in several areas, said Chris Sidoti, a member of the Special Advisory Council for Myanmar, an independent group of international experts, who was also part of a UN-led fact-finding mission to the Southeast Asian nation.