Se­cu­rity coun­cil meet­ing urged

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - LUN MIN MANG lun­min­mang@mm­times.com

With the govern­ment and the coun­try fac­ing sev­eral ma­jor set­backs in re­cent months, more than a dozen po­lit­i­cal par­ties have called for a meet­ing of the pow­er­ful Na­tional De­fence and Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

THIR­TEEN reg­is­tered po­lit­i­cal par­ties have called for a meet­ing of the pow­er­ful Na­tional De­fence and Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to ad­dress a “gen­eral cri­sis” fac­ing the coun­try on mul­ti­ple fronts.

Led by the for­merly rul­ing Union Sol­i­dar­ity and De­vel­op­ment Party, a state­ment re­leased by the par­ties said now is the right time to bring the coun­cil’s mem­ber­ship to­gether for the sake of the coun­try’s se­cu­rity.

Ter­ri­to­rial sovereignty is at stake in con­flict-wracked Rakhine State, the state­ment reads, adding that re­newed fight­ing in the coun­try’s north­east is neg­a­tively im­pact­ing the lives and prop­erty of “in­no­cent civil­ians”.

“It is high time that the govern­ment de­clare the root cause of these prob­lems is due to ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions that have a con­nec­tion with in­ter­na­tional [ac­tors] and acts of ter­ror­ism,” reads the state­ment.

The 13 po­lit­i­cal par­ties claim that a “se­ries of ex­plo­sions in Yangon, in­creas­ing crime rates na­tion­wide, grad­u­ally ris­ing eco­nomic hard­ships and fad­ing hope on the peace process that is un­der way” con­sti­tute a “gen­eral cri­sis” fac­ing the coun­try.

With­out nam­ing a sin­gle or­gan­i­sa­tion or net­work, the joint state­ment said groups abroad and do­mes­ti­cally are de­ploy­ing sys­tem­atic strate­gies to weaken the de­fence ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the coun­try.

“The cur­rent han­dling of the govern­ment is in­stead lead­ing to deeper cri­sis,” said the state­ment.

“To solve the gen­eral cri­sis cur­rently faced in se­cu­rity and eco­nomic terms, to ef­fec­tively mit­i­gate the dan­ger of ter­ror­ist acts of do­mes­tic [ac­tors] and from abroad, and to make the right de­ci­sions, it is now time to call for a meet­ing of the Na­tional De­fence and Se­cu­rity Coun­cil,” the par­ties said.

The 11-mem­ber NDSC is com­posed of the pres­i­dent, the two vice pres­i­dents, the two par­lia­men­tary Speak­ers, the Tat­madaw com­man­der-inchief and his deputy, and the min­is­ters of de­fence, bor­der af­fairs, home af­fairs and for­eign af­fairs.

Barred from the pres­i­dency, State Coun­sel­lor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is widely be­lieved to have also taken the for­eign af­fairs min­is­ter post to en­sure her­self a seat on the NDSC.

Her rul­ing Na­tional League for Democ­racy was not among the 13 par­ties to sign on to the joint state­ment.

U Zaw Htay, deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice, sug­gested that the coun­try’s se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion was not as dire as por­trayed by the 13 po­lit­i­cal par­ties, adding that the govern­ment was han­dling the chal­lenges to the best of its abil­ity.

“The phrase ‘gen­eral cri­sis’ is a bit ex­ag­ger­ated. The sit­u­a­tion here and in Rakhine State is not un­con­trol­lable, but re­quires care­ful han­dling. Con­cern­ing the econ­omy and the peace process, the sit­u­a­tion is not as bad as de­scribed in the state­ment,” he said.

Asked whether a sin­gle meet­ing of the NDSC had been con­vened since the civil­ian-led Na­tional League for Democ­racy govern­ment took power in April, he said one had not.

In the wake of mul­ti­ple at­tacks on Bor­der Guard Po­lice out­posts on Oc­to­ber 9 in north­ern Rakhine State, a meet­ing was held on Oc­to­ber 14 be­tween se­nior fig­ures of the rul­ing party and the Tat­madaw, in­clud­ing the pres­i­dent. The gath­er­ing was de­scribed by the Pres­i­dent’s Of­fice as a “meet­ing re­lated to na­tional de­fence and se­cu­rity”.

Asked why the 13 po­lit­i­cal par­ties had not as yet sug­gested specifics for how to ad­dress the chal­lenges cur­rently fac­ing the govern­ment, New Na­tional Democ­racy Party chair U Thein Nyunt said it was not the re­spon­si­bil­ity of po­lit­i­cal par­ties, but rather fell to the govern­ment.

“If they are not call­ing an emer­gency meet­ing of the NDSC, then when will they call it?” he asked.

U Thein Nyunt said the re­cent volatil­ity along the coun­try’s bor­ders and a poorly func­tion­ing econ­omy were bring­ing the great­est hard­ship to those at the grass-roots level.

“If that con­tin­ues, then there will be ri­ots and an up­ris­ing in the coun­try. The NDSC should meet now and dis­cuss how to solve those prob­lems,” he said.

The 2008 con­sti­tu­tion lays out the NDSC’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in its chap­ter “Pro­vi­sions on State of Emer­gency”. Among other du­ties, the mil­i­tary­dom­i­nated NDSC plays a co­or­di­nat­ing and con­sul­ta­tive role in the event that a state of emer­gency is de­clared.

In the most ex­treme of cir­cum­stances, Ar­ti­cle 417 states, “If there arises or if there is suf­fi­cient rea­son for a state of emer­gency to arise that may dis­in­te­grate the Union or dis­in­te­grate na­tional sol­i­dar­ity or that may cause the loss of sovereignty, due to acts or at­tempts to take over the sovereignty of the Union by in­sur­gency, vi­o­lence and wrong­ful forcible means, the pres­i­dent may, af­ter co­or­di­nat­ing with the Na­tional De­fence and Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, pro­mul­gate an or­di­nance and de­clare a state of emer­gency.”

In such an event, leg­isla­tive, ju­di­cial and ex­ec­u­tive au­thor­ity is handed over to the com­man­der-in-chief, Se­nior Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing.

Photo: AFP

A Tat­madaw sol­dier se­cures the ground while a mil­i­tary he­li­copter car­ry­ing troops takes off from Muse, Shan State, on Novem­ber 25.

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