Former UN chief arrives to take helm of Rakhine commission
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will meet today with former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, who arrived in Yangon yesterday and whose appointment as chair of a recently created Rakhine State advisory commission has rankled nationalists.
FORMER UN secretary general Kofi Annan, who chairs the recently created Rakhine State advisory commission, will meet with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi today, after arriving in Yangon on September 3.
Mr Annan’s six-day trip will take him to Sittwe, the Rakhine State capital, on September 6, with a visit to outlying IDP camps the following day, according to members of the commission, which was formed on August 23. He will meet President U Htin Kyaw and Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Nay Pyi Taw on September 8, when Mr Annan will also hold a press conference in Yangon before departing Myanmar the next day.
U Aye Lwin, a member of the advisory body, told The Myanmar Times yesterday that all nine commissioners have been invited to attend the meeting with the state counsellor.
“The commission will be launched during the meeting. And I think he [Mr Annan] and Daw Suu will meet with journalists after the meeting,” U Aye Lwin said.
The commission has faced headwinds since its creation last month, with Rakhine nationalists including the state’s dominant political party criticising the appointment of three foreigners to the panel. Mr Annan, a Ghanaian, is joined by Ghassan Salame of Lebanon and Norwegian Laetitia van den Assum.
Opponents of their inclusion contend that problems in Rakhine State – which is still grappling with the legacy of Buddhist-Muslim violence in 2012 – are an internal affair, and that Myanmar’s sovereignty could be at stake.
The advisory commission has been tasked with finding conflictprevention measures; ensuring humanitarian assistance, rights and reconciliation; establishing basic infrastructure; and promoting longterm development plans. It has been instructed to submit a report on its findings within one year.
U Tun Aung Kyaw, secretary of the Arakan National Party, said yesterday that the party maintained its opposition to the existence of the commission entirely, adding that ANP representatives did not intend to meet Mr Annan when he visits Sittwe.
“We won’t meet with the commission even if they invited us. But we told Rakhine civil society organisations to meet with the commission and to convey the real situation in Rakhine State,” he said.
The Pyithu Hluttaw is due to discuss today a proposal that calls for removing the three foreigners from the Rakhine State advisory commission and replacing them with Myanmar nationals.
U Hla Moe (NLD; Aung Myay Tharzan), secretary of the Pyithu Hluttaw rights committee, said nearly 35 MPs including militarily appointed lawmakers have registered to debate the proposal.
Meanwhile, the Sittwe ANP secretary, U Aung Than Wai, said Rakhine community groups had applied for permission from the township administrator to protest Mr Annan during his visit.
“In my opinion, if it is necessary to form an advisory commission for Rakhine State, the Union government should form it only with Myanmar national experts,” he said. “We sought permission to protest like that because it is not concerned with the international [community] and our Rakhine people do not want Kofi Annan to lead this commission.” – Additional reporting by Yee Ywel Myint, translation by
Win Thaw Tar
PHOTO: AUNG MYIN YE ZAW