Exiles Considering Formation of New Government in Exile

24 December 2007

By Wai Moe
December 21, 2007
[Original Source - Irrawaddy]

Some opposition leaders in exile are said to be planning to form a new exile government or to reform the current exiled government, the National Coalition Government Union of Burma (NCGUB), according to exiled opposition sources.

Opposition sources on the Thai-Burmese border told The Irrawaddy on Friday that two approaches are being considered: one reforming the current NCGUB, which has a headquarter office in Rockville, Maryland in the United States.

It was founded on December 18, 1990 when the National League for Democracy and other opposition groups elected Sein Win, a first cousin of Aung San Suu Kyi, as the NCGUB's prime minister.

Sein Win recently told The Irrawaddy that his government in exile supports the continuation of the initiative and mediation of the UN special envoy to Burma, Ibrahim Gambari.

However, NCGUB led by Sein Win is not highly regarded in Burmese community in and out of Burma.

The former university professor is, political observers say, sincere but lacked charisma and political vision thus unfit to lead the government in exile.

“Many people in exile politics have argued that the NCGUB is currently irrelevant to leading the exiled opposition movement,” said a source who asked to remain anonymous.

A second concept is to form an exile-based "federal government," sources said, to be led by the National Council Union of Burma (NCUB).

According to the source, there have been many debates over the two approaches. Some suggested a new "federal government" should be formed under the old NCGUB title. But most people opposed that idea, according to the source.

The NCUB is an umbrella organization in Burma including ethnic minority groups. It was founded in September 1992 and is based on the Thai-Burmese border. The Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), the National Democratic Front (NDF), the National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) (NLD-LA) and the Members of Parliament Union (MPU) are members of the NCUB.

“People who disagree argued that it is not time to talk about creating governments in exile, but time to think urgently about how to endorse dissident movements in Burma,” said a politician in exile who asked for anonymity.

Some politicians also expressed doubts about whether governments in exile could make common ground and decisions for the dissident movement abroad. Other voiced concerns that forming exiled governments could lead to more problems for pro-democracy forces inside Burma.

People who lobby for a new exiled "federal government" argued that it could lead to more a legitimate opposition movement in exile, and could be a more effective lobby group, said sources.

If formed, the new exiled government would include 15 ministers and include ethnic representatives.

San Aung, a member of the current government in exile, the NCGUB, on Friday denied there were talks about reforming the government.

“We are standing for the democracy movement,” he said. “If it is necessary, we could dissolve the NCGUB.”

Political sources in exile believe that Maung Maung, General Secretary of the NCUB, is lobbying to form a new government. Maung Maung is controversial political figure in exile. San Aung said, “You (The Irrawaddy) should ask the NCUB about it, because the rumors spread from it.”

Many lives have been lost in the democracy struggle and people should think carefully before rushing into the political arena, said San Aung.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) announced its opposition to the formation of a new government in exile in February 2006.