Fri, Apr 29, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Shan government seeks recognition from UN, Thailand

DPA , BANGKOK

The self-declared Shan government, which earlier this month claimed independence from Myanmar, is seeking recognition from the UN and several countries including Thailand, leaders of the rebel government said on Thursday.

"We are in the process of seeking recognition from a number of countries including the United Nations," said Hkun Hom, the self-proclaimed foreign minister of the Shan government.

On April 17, Shan Prince Surkhanpha, the son of Myanmar's first post-independence president Saopalong Sa Shwe Thaike, declared the Shan State of northeastern Myanmar independent and the establishment of a Shan government with himself as president.

The self-proclaimed government has called on the UN to send in a peacekeeping force to the Shan State to help remove Myanmar troops from their territory to pave the way for a free election.

"We have foreign troops in our country and have to see that they withdraw back to Burma before we can hold an election to elect a new government," said Hkun Hom, addressing an informal gathering of journalists in Bangkok.

Hkun Hom said the Shan government has also sought support and recognition from Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, head of state of Thailand.

"We have no quarrel with the Thai government. In fact, we share the same heritage, history and culture so we would welcome full cooperation with the Thais," Surkhanpha said.

Surkhanpha, a geologist by profession who has been living in exile in Canada since 1966, claimed he had earned his mandate from the Shan people by secretly canvassing their support over the past two years.

"Our government's mandate comes from 48 townships out of 56 in the Shan State who voted for independence," he said.

He claimed firm support from the 8 million people residing in the Shan State, including the Shan State Army and other rebel groups who have been waging insurgencies in the area for the past five decades.

Surkhanpha said Myanmar, which has been under military rule since 1962, had lost its constitutional right to preserve the country as a union because of the Yangon-based military regime's mistreatment of ethnic minorities, including the Shan.

"The 1948 Union of Burma does not exist. The Burmese generals have converted it into a Burmese empire," said Surkhanpha, who refused to call the country by its official name, Myanmar.

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