Myanmar’s shadow National Unity Government (NUG) declared war on the country’s regime on Tuesday in order “to root out military rule”, taking the ongoing armed struggle against the junta to another level, with fighting expected to intensify across the country.
In a speech to the country on Tuesday morning, the NUG’s acting president, Duwa Lashi La, called on all citizens to “revolt against the rule of military terrorists led by [coup leader] Min Aung Hlaing in every corner of the country” and declared all of Myanmar to be under a state of emergency.
“It will last until the resumption of civilian rule in the country,” he said.
The acting president also urged anyone serving under the regime to leave their job as of today and requested that the public refrain from traveling, while asking for their support.
The NUG was formed in April, largely comprising elected lawmakers from the ousted National League for Democracy government and their ethnic allies. Since its formation, it has enjoyed support at home and abroad.
The announcement of the official armed struggle against the regime comes one week before the opening of this year’s session of the UN General Assembly in New York. If fighting intensifies in the coming days, the Myanmar crisis is expected to be one of the dominant issues at the meeting.
The NUG’s call for armed struggle comes seven months after the military takeover in the country; Myanmar has already seen sporadic deadly civilian armed resistance against the military for months, as many young people have taken up arms in response to the junta’s deadly crackdowns on protesters. At the same time, ethnic armed groups in Kachin and Karen states have launched deadly offensives against regime troops to show solidarity with the anti-regime movement. The armed groups have also offered weapons training to the young people; many have launched deadly guerrilla attacks against regime troops and their associates in urban areas. As a result, the regime has been unable to assert control of the country as a whole.
Regarding the NUG’s call for war, it’s not yet clear how it would launch offensives. Despite the nationwide presence of civilian resistance groups like the People’s Defense Forces (PDF), the regime still outnumbers and outguns them.
Regional bloc ASEAN, of which Myanmar is a member, has tried to intervene by assigning a special envoy for the country. The envoy recently called for a four-month ceasefire to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
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