The acting leader of Myanmar’s parallel civilian government, appointed by legislators who were removed following a power grab by the military in February, has promised to pursue a “revolution” to overturn the military government.
Mahn Win Khaing Than, who is in hiding along with most senior officials from the governing National League for Democracy Party, addressed the public for the first time on Saturday via Facebook.
“This is the darkest moment of the nation and the moment that the dawn is close,” he said.
At least six people died on Saturday in one of the bloodiest days since the army seized power and detained most of the civilian leadership, including Aung San Suu Kyi. Four deaths were reported in Mandalay, the country’s second-biggest city, and two in Pyay, a town in south-central Myanmar.
Overall, more than 70 people have been killed in Myanmar in widespread protests against the military, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) advocacy group said. The figure has been endorsed by the independent UN human rights expert for Myanmar, Tom Andrews.
Mahn Win Khaing Than was appointed last week as acting vice president by representatives of Myanmar’s overthrown legislators, the Committee for Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH), which is pushing for recognition as the rightful government.
It has announced its intention to create a federal democracy and leaders have been meeting representatives of Myanmar’s largest ethnic armed organisations, which already control vast swaths of territory across the country. Some have pledged their support.
“In order to form a federal democracy, which all ethnic brothers, who have been suffering various kinds of oppressions from the dictatorship for decades, really desired, this revolution is the chance for us to put our efforts together,” Mahn Win Khaing Than said.
His address was greeted with thousands of approving comments from many who followed it on Facebook. “Keep it up Mr President! You are our hope. We are all with you,” wrote one user, Ko Shan.
The military government has declared CRPH illegal and said anyone involved with it could be charged with treason, which carries the death penalty.
The CRPH has declared the military government a “terrorist organisation”.
Mahn Win Khaing Than said the CRPH would “attempt to legislate the required laws so that the people have the right to defend themselves” and that public administration would be handled by an “interim people’s administration team”.
A civil disobedience movement that started with government employees such as doctors and teachers has expanded into a general strike that has paralysed many sectors of the economy and taken a large portion of the workings of government out of the military’s hands.