Ousted Myanmar Party Demands Release Of Aung San Suu Kyi

(FILES) This file photo taken on October 25, 2020 shows supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party taking part in an election campaign event with a portrait of Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon. (Photo by Sai Aung Main / AFP)

 

The party of Myanmar’s toppled leader Aung San Suu Kyi demanded her immediate release Tuesday, after a military coup that triggered international condemnation and sanctions threats from the new US president.

Armed troops patrolled the capital, Naypyidaw, where Suu Kyi and other National League for Democracy party leaders were detained in pre-dawn raids on Monday just ahead of the scheduled resumption of parliament.

Soldiers were also stationed Tuesday outside the dormitories for parliamentarians in Naypyidaw, with one NLD MP describing it as “an open-air detention centre”.

“We are not allowed to go outside,” she told AFP by telephone, requesting anonymity for fear of the military. “We are very worried.”

Suu Kyi and President Win Myint remained under house arrest, the lawmaker told AFP, although it was not immediately clear where they were being held.

Despite the intimidation, a statement was posted on the NLD’s verified Facebook page calling for the release of Suu Kyi and all detained party members.

“We see this as a stain on the history of the State and the Tatmadaw,” it added, referring to the military by its Burmese name.

It also demanded the military “recognise the confirmed result of the 2020 general election”.

The military justified its seizure of power by alleging widespread fraud in elections held three months ago that the NLD won in a landslide.

The military said it would hold power under a state of emergency for 12 months, claiming it would then hold fresh elections.

– Condemnation –

US President Joe Biden led the chorus of global outrage, calling for a quick restoration of democracy and warning that Washington could reimpose sanctions.

“The international community should come together in one voice to press the Burmese military to immediately relinquish the power they have seized,” Biden said.

“The United States is taking note of those who stand with the people of Burma in this difficult hour.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the European Union and Australia were among others to condemn the coup. Britain summoned Myanmar’s envoy in formal protest.

But China’s response was less emphatic, with the official Xinhua news agency describing the coup as a “cabinet reshuffle”.

The United Nations Security Council was due to meet Tuesday for an emergency meeting.

– Military rule –

Myanmar’s November polls were only the second democratic elections the country had seen since it emerged from the 49-year grip of military rule in 2011.

The NLD won more than 80 percent of the vote in November — increasing its support from the 2015 elections.

But the military claimed to have uncovered more than 10 million instances of voter fraud.

Although the military had flagged last week it was considering a coup, Monday’s events seemed to stun the country and power was seized extremely quickly.

The military strangled the internet as the coup was unfolding, but eased restrictions later in the day.

On Tuesday there were few signs of extra security in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and commercial capital, indicating the generals’ comfort levels belief that, for now, they faced no mass protests.

On Yangon’s streets, people voiced anger, fear and helplessness.

“We want to go out to show our dissatisfaction,” a taxi driver told AFP.

“But Mother Suu is in their hands. We cannot do much but stay quiet at this moment.”

A newspaper seller said he did not recognise the new government.

“The duty of military is to protect the country, not to rule the country… but everyone knows the military has guns and they are used to shooting people,” he told AFP.

– Pariah –

Military chief and coup leader Min Aung Hlaing is now in charge of the country, although former general Myint Swe is acting president.

Min Aung Hlaing is an international pariah who is under US sanctions for a military campaign against Myanmar’s Muslim Rohinyga community that forced 750,000 of them to flee into Bangladesh, a campaign UN investigators said amounted to genocide.

Suu Kyi, 75, is an immensely popular figure in Myanmar for her opposition to the military — which earned her the Nobel Peace Prize — having spent the best part of two decades under house arrest during the previous dictatorship.

But her international image was shredded during her time in power as she defended the military-backed crackdown on the Rohingya.

Derek Mitchell, the first US ambassador to Myanmar after military rule, said the international community still needed to respect Suu Kyi’s overwhelming victory in November.

The West “may have considered her this global icon of democracy and that luster is off. But if you care about democracy in the world, then you must respect the democratic choice and she is clearly that”.

“It’s not about the person; it’s about the process,” he said.

Military Seizes Power In Myanmar, Detains Elected Leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Soldiers stand guard on a street in Naypyidaw on February 1, 2021, after the military detained the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country's president in a coup. STR / AFP
Soldiers stand guard on a street in Naypyidaw on February 1, 2021, after the military detained the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s president in a coup. STR / AFP

 

Myanmar’s military seized power in a bloodless coup on Monday, detaining democratically elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi as it imposed a one-year state of emergency. 

The intervention ended a decade of civilian rule in Myanmar, with the military justifying its power grab by alleging fraud in the November elections that Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won in a landslide.

The coup sparked global condemnation, with the United States leading calls for democracy to be immediately restored.

Suu Kyi and President Win Myint were detained in the capital Naypyidaw before dawn, party spokesman Myo Nyunt told AFP, just hours before parliament was meant to reconvene for the first time since the elections.

The military sealed off roads around the capital with armed troops, trucks and armoured personnel carriers. Military helicopters flew across the city.

The military then declared, via its own television channel, a one-year state of emergency and announced that former general Myint Swe would be acting president for the next year.

It alleged “huge irregularities” in the November polls that the election commission had failed to address.

This combination of pictures created on February 1, 2021 shows (top L) Myanmar's President Win Myint during a visit to New Delhi on February 27, 2020, (top R) Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi at the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Bangkok on November 4, 2019, (bottom L) Myint Swe, then the Yangon division chief minister, delivering a speech in Yangon on February 12, 2013, and (bottom R) Myanmar's Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces, saluting during a ceremony to mark the 71th anniversary of Martyrs' Day in Yangon on July 19, 2018. Soe Than WIN, Prakash SINGH, Lillian SUWANRUMPHA, Ye Aung THU / AFP
This combination of pictures created on February 1, 2021 shows (top L) Myanmar’s President Win Myint, (top R) Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, (bottom L) Myint Swe, then the Yangon division chief minister, and (bottom R) Myanmar’s Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces Soe Than WIN, Prakash SINGH, Lillian SUWANRUMPHA, Ye Aung THU / AFP

 

“As the situation must be resolved according to the law, a state of emergency is declared,” the announcement said.

The army later pledged to hold fresh elections after the year-long state of emergency.

“We will perform real multi-party democracy… with complete balance and fairness,” a statement on the army’s official Facebook page said.

Suu Kyi issued a pre-emptive statement ahead of her detention calling on people “not to accept a coup”, according to a post on the official Facebook page of the her party’s chairperson.

Quash dissent

The military moved quickly to stifle dissent, severely restricting the internet and mobile phone communications across the country.

In Yangon, the former capital that remains Myanmar’s commercial hub, troops seized the city hall just ahead of the announcement, according to an AFP journalist.

AFP saw several trucks in Yangon carrying army supporters, with Myanmar flags and blaring nationalist songs, and some NLD members reported that security forces had ordered them to stay at home.

Elsewhere, the chief minister of Karen state and several other regional ministers were also held, party sources told AFP.

However, the military did not deploy masses of troops onto Yangon’s streets.

Swift condemnation

Washington was swift to react to the news.

“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the European Union, Britain and Australia were among others to condemn the coup.

China declined to criticise anyone, instead calling for all sides to “resolve differences”.

Myanmar’s November polls were only the second democratic elections the country had seen since it emerged from the 49-year grip of military rule in 2011.

The NLD won more than 80 percent of the vote — increasing its support from 2011.

Suu Kyi, 75, is an immensely popular figure in Myanmar for her opposition to the military, having spent the best part of two decades under house arrest during the previous dictatorship.

But the military has for weeks complained the polls were riddled with irregularities, and claimed to have uncovered over 10 million instances of voter fraud.

Last week, military chief General Min Aung Hlaing said Myanmar’s 2008 constitution could be “revoked” under certain circumstances.

Myanmar has seen two previous coups since independence from Britain in 1948, one in 1962 and one in 1988.

Suu Kyi’s previous opposition to the military earned her the Nobel peace prize.

But her international image was shredded during her time in power as she defended the military-backed crackdown in 2017 against the country’s Muslim Rohingya community.

About 750,000 Rohingya were forced to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh during the campaign, which UN investigators said amounted to genocide.

Suu Kyi went to the United Nations to defend Myanmar against the allegations.

Suu Kyi was only ever de facto leader of Myanmar as the military had inserted a clause in the constitution that barred her from being president.

The 2008 constitution also ensured the military would remain a significant force in government by retaining control of the interior, border and defence ministries.

But to circumvent the clause preventing her from being president, Suu Kyi assumed leadership of the country via a new role of “state counsellor”.

“From (the military’s) perspective, it has lost significant control over the political process,” political analyst Soe Myint Aung told AFP.

 

AFP

Election Countdown Starts In Myanmar Under COVID-19 Shadow

Yan Shin (C), a candidate of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party, wears a protective face shield during the launch of campaigning for the upcoming general election in Yangon on September 8, 2020. YE AUNG THU / AFP.

 

Myanmar’s election campaign began Tuesday with Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains widely admired and respected at home despite her tarnished image abroad, hoping for a landslide win to further cement her status as the country’s civilian leader.

The Nobel laureate’s National League for Democracy (NLD) swept to power in 2015 — the first national polls since the Southeast Asian nation emerged from decades of junta rule.

Despite the coronavirus threat, campaigns are, for now, under way — albeit with accessories.

Wearing a red face mask, plastic visor and rubber gloves, Suu Kyi Tuesday morning raised the NLD flag — with its fighting peacock symbol — at the party’s office in the capital, Naypyidaw.

“We want our victory to be the country’s victory,” she said, thanking supporters for flying the NLD colours across the nation.

A tide of red NLD paraphernalia has swept across Yangon with printing shops in recent weeks in overdrive to produce stickers, T-shirts and masks.

“I don’t think about policies or candidates. I love Mother Suu and I like what she does for our country,” 61-year-old street vendor Myint Myint Htay told AFP.

But the military is still hugely powerful in a country governed under a constitution written by the former junta.

The armed forces control three key ministries and 25 percent of parliamentary seats — effectively giving them a veto on legislation.

In August, Suu Kyi reminded the country on Facebook why her party needed every vote: “We can’t just get more than 50 percent of elected seats like in a normal democracy.”

– Credibility in question? –

Suu Kyi — once hailed as a democracy icon — has seen her international standing plummet in recent years over allegations that Myanmar committed genocide against its Rohingya Muslim community.

Her decision to travel to the UN’s top court to defend military operations against the minority was widely condemned in the West but stoked nationalistic pride at home.

NLD fervour still rages across much of the majority-Bamar heartlands, but a flagging peace process in a nation wrought with conflict — as well as a perception the NLD acts only for the dominant Bamar group — means a likely boon for ethnic minority parties.

The ruling party’s principal foe, the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), sees this as an opening.

“I’m trying to build understanding with ethnic parties,” USDP leader Than Htay told AFP.

Also out in force in Yangon Tuesday were the blue-clad People’s Pioneer Party (PPP), led by businesswoman Thet Thet Khine, ousted from the NLD last year and proclaiming a “middle way” between Suu Kyi’s party and the military.

But the coronavirus pandemic could still upend the vote with case numbers quadrupling in the last three weeks — even if they remain relatively low at just 1,610 with eight deaths so far.

Campaign events are limited to a maximum of 50 people.

Many are even calling for the election to be postponed, but Suu Kyi would be loath to delay, said Yangon-based analyst Richard Horsey.

She has led the nation’s fight against the pandemic and delaying would be a “sign she’s not winning the battle”.

If her hand is forced, a postponement of more than two months would theoretically cause a constitutional crisis and even the invocation of a state of emergency.

But Horsey predicted the government and military would reach a consensus to head off any political fallout.

Many observers expect the vote to be cancelled in the worst conflict areas, including northern Rakhine state — likely fuelling further discontent.

Rakhine was also where the military drove out hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in 2017 — operations that now see Myanmar facing genocide charges.

The disenfranchisement of refugees and most of the 600,000 Rohingya still in Myanmar — stripped of citizenship and rights — raises “fundamental doubts” about the election’s credibility, warned Phil Robertson from Human Rights Watch.

AFP

Suu Kyi Criticised For ‘Silence’ Over Myanmar Genocide Claims

Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi looks on as she attends the 10th ASEAN-UN Summit in Bangkok, on the sidelines of the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.  Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP

 

The Gambia condemned Aung San Suu Kyi’s “silence” over the plight of Rohingya Muslims on Thursday after the Nobel Peace Prize laureate defended Myanmar against genocide charges at the UN’s top court.

Lawyers for the mostly Muslim African country said her arguments that Myanmar’s 2017 military crackdown was a “clearance operation” targeting militants ignored widespread allegations of mass murder, rape and forced deportation.

“Madame agent, your silence said far more than your words,” The Gambia’s lawyer Philippe Sands told the International Court of Justice (ICJ), referring to Suu Kyi, who is officially acting as Myanmar’s agent in the case.

“The word ‘rape’ did not once pass the lips of the agent,” Sands added, as Suu Kyi sat impassively in the courtroom, wearing traditional Burmese dress and flowers in her hair.

The Gambia has taken majority-Buddhist Myanmar to the court in The Hague, accusing it of breaching the 1948 UN Genocide convention and seeking emergency measures to protect the Rohingya.

Once regarded as an international rights icon for standing up to Myanmar’s brutal junta, Suu Kyi has seen her reputation tarnished by her decision to side with the military over the Rohingya crisis.

She used a dramatic appearance at the ICJ on Wednesday to say there was no “genocidal intent” behind the operation that led to some 740,000 Rohingya fleeing into neighbouring Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi defended Myanmar’s actions saying it faced an “internal conflict” and that the military conducted “clearance operations” after an attack by Rohingya militants in August 2017.

 ‘Imminent risk of genocide’ 

But Paul Reichler, another of The Gambia’s lawyers, said that those killed included “infants beaten to death or torn from their mothers’ arms and thrown into rivers to drown. How many of them were terrorists?

“Armed conflict can never be an excuse for genocide,” he said.

The lawyer said Suu Kyi had also failed to deny the conclusions of a 2018 UN investigation that found that genocide had been committed in Myanmar against the Rohingya.

“What is most striking is what Myanmar has not denied,” Reichler said.

He also dismissed Suu Kyi’s insistence that Myanmar’s military should be left to probe the allegations itself, saying it was not credible when its own top generals have themselves been accused of genocide.

“How could anyone expect the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military) to investigate when six of its top generals, including Min Aung Hlaing, have all been accused of genocide by the UN fact-finding mission?” he asked.

The US on Tuesday slapped fresh sanctions including a travel ban on military chief Min Aung Hlaing over the Rohingya crisis.

The lawyer added that Suu Kyi in her speech to the court had also followed Myanmar’s “racist” policy of refusing to refer to the Rohingya Muslim minority by their name.

Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou pushed the court to impose the emergency measures, saying there was a “serious and imminent risk of genocide recurring” and that “the lives of these human beings are at risk.”

Suu Kyi was expected to make closing remarks later Thursday.

A decision on the measures could take months, while a final ruling if the ICJ decides to take on the full case could take years.

AFP

Nobel Peace Laureate Kyi Arrives UN Court For Genocide Hearing

Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi looks on as she attends the 10th ASEAN-UN Summit in Bangkok, on the sidelines of the 35th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.  Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP

 

Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi arrived at the UN’s top court on Tuesday to personally defend Myanmar against accusations of genocide against Rohingya Muslims.

Wearing traditional Burmese dress, Myanmar’s civilian leader did not speak to waiting media as she stepped out of a car and entered the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

AFP

Pope Meets Myanmar’s Leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Pope Francis (L) talks to Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Naypyitaw on November 28, 2017. Photo: MAX ROSSI / POOL / AFP

Pope Francis met Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi Tuesday, an AFP reporter said, for keenly-awaited talks in which rights groups hope the pontiff will discuss the country’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslim population.

The pair met at the presidential palace in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw for 45 minutes of scheduled talks, likely to focus on the plight of the 620,000 Rohingya who have fled an army crackdown in Myanmar to Bangladesh.

AFP

Pope To Meet Myanmar’s Leader Suu Kyi

Pope Prays For End To 'Grave Crisis' In Venezuela
Pope Francis. Photo: Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Pope Francis will hold talks with Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday, a key moment of a tour aimed at alleviating religious and ethnic hatreds that have driven huge numbers of Muslim Rohingya from the country.

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been ostracised by a global rights community that once adored her but is now outraged at her tepid reaction to the plight of the Rohingya.

After the talks in the capital Naypyidaw, the pontiff will address Suu Kyi and diplomats there — his first opportunity to speak publicly about the conflict that looms over his trip.

The 80-year-old pontiff late Monday received a “courtesy visit” from the powerful army chief Min Aung Hlaing — whose troops, according to the UN and US, have waged a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya from Rakhine state.

General Min Aung Hlaing has firmly denied allegations of widespread brutality by his forces, despite the flight to Bangladesh since late August of 620,000 Rohingya who have recounted widespread cases of rape, murder and arson.

His office said he told the pope there was “no discrimination” in Myanmar, and praised his military for maintaining “the peace and stability of the country”.

The pope has repeatedly spoken out from afar about the crisis, standing up for what he has called his Rohingya “brothers and sisters”.

A similar approach in Myanmar is fraught with danger — using the term “Rohingya” is unacceptable in a mainly Buddhist country where the Muslim minority are denied citizenship and branded illegal “Bengali” immigrants.

The country is listening closely to see if Francis will use the word “Rohingya” on Myanmar soil, and risk provoking the outrage of Buddhist nationalists.

Early Tuesday, day two of his four-day visit, the pontiff met leaders from Buddhist, Muslim, Baptist and Jewish faiths in Yangon.

The conversation centred around themes of unity in diversity, with the pope sharing a prayer and giving a “very, very beautiful speech”, according to Sammy Samuels, a representative from the small Jewish community.

Francis flies up to Naypyidaw Tuesday afternoon to meet Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Lady, as she is fondly known in Myanmar, finally came to power after elections in 2015 but has fallen from grace internationally for not doing more to stand up to the army in defence of the Rohingya — whose name she will not publicly utter.

Rights groups have clamoured for Suu Kyi to be stripped of her peace prize. Oxford, the English city she once called home, on Monday removed her Freedom of the City award for her “inaction” in the face of oppression of the Rohingya.

– Catholics congregate –

So far, the pontiff has received a warm welcome to the majority Buddhist nation.

Myanmar’s Catholic community numbers just over one percent of the country’s 51 million people.

But some 200,000 Catholics are pouring into the commercial capital Yangon from all corners of the country ahead of a huge, open-air mass on Wednesday.

Zaw Sai, 52, from Kachin state, found space for himself and his family to camp out in a churchyard.

“We feel very pleased because we are from different ethnicities but are one in our religion,” he told AFP.

Just days before the papal visit, Myanmar and Bangladesh signed a deal to start repatriating Rohingya refugees within two months.

But details of the agreement — including the use of temporary shelters for returnees, many of whose homes have been burned to the ground — raise questions for Rohingya fearful of returning without guarantees of basic rights.

Francis will travel on to Bangladesh on Thursday.

AFP

Suu Kyi Faces Mounting World Anger Over Rohingya

 

Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi delivers a national address in Naypyidaw on September 19, 2017. Ye Aung THU / AFP

Aung San Suu Kyi faced mounting criticism Tuesday over what some world leaders are now calling the “ethnic cleansing” of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority, despite her plea for patience from the international community.

The head of Myanmar’s civilian administration pledged to hold rights violators to account over the crisis in Rakhine state, but refused to blame Myanmar’s powerful military for the attacks that have driven 421,000 Muslim Rohingya out of her mainly Buddhist country.

But her speech, delivered in English and clearly aimed at deflecting international anger as world leaders gathered at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, failed to quell international anger at reports that the Rohingya are being burned out of their homes.

“The military operation must stop, humanitarian access must be guaranteed and the rule of law restored in the face of what we know is ethnic cleansing,” French President Emmanuel Macron told world leaders gathered for the week of high-level diplomacy.

The United States has been careful not to blame Myanmar’s civilian leadership for the attacks because the country’s military retains control of security operations in troubled areas like northern Rakhine, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was moved to call Suu Kyi.

While Tillerson welcomed the pledge to crack down on abuses, he also urged both the government and the military “to address deeply troubling allegations of human rights abuses and violations” during the telephone conversation, his spokeswoman said.

Macron and Tillerson’s concerns echoed those of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who issued a blunt demand that Myanmar halt military operations and of Britain, which suspended training courses for the Myanmar military in light of the violence in Rakhine.

“The authorities in Myanmar must end the military operations and allow unhindered humanitarian access,” Guterres told the General Assembly.

“They must also address the grievances of the Rohingya, whose status has been left unresolved for far too long.”

Amnesty International joined the outcry, saying Suu Kyi was “burying her head in the sand” over documented army abuses and claims of rape, murder and the systematic clearing of scores of villages.

And in New York, there was pressure from leaders like Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who compared the crisis to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

“If this tragedy in Myanmar is not stopped, the history of humanity will face the embarrassment of another dark stain,” Erdogan said, calling for the Rohingya sheltering in Bangladesh to be allowed to return to the homes in which they “have lived for centuries.”

In her long-anticipated speech, Suu Kyi — a former political prisoner and Nobel Peace laureate who won international acclaim for her role in campaigning for a return to elected rule in Myanmar — failed to offer any concrete way out of the crisis.

Supporters and observers say the 72-year-old lacks the authority to rein in the military, which ran the country for 50 years and only recently ceded limited powers to her civilian government.

Myanmar’s army acts without civilian oversight and makes all security decisions, including its notorious scorched-earth counterinsurgency operations.

– Repatriation pledge –

Communal violence has torn through Rakhine state since Rohingya militants staged deadly attacks on police posts on August 25.

An army-led fightback has left scores dead and sent hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing into Bangladesh.

In her 30-minute speech, Suu Kyi reached out to critics who have condemned her failure to speak up for the stateless Rohingya and promised to repatriate refugees in accordance with a “verification” process agreed with Bangladesh in the early 1990s.

“Those who have been verified as refugees from this country will be accepted without any problems,” she added.

In less than a month, just under half of Rakhine’s million-strong Rohingya minority has poured into Bangladesh, where they languish in overcrowded refugee camps.

It was not immediately clear how many would qualify to return.

But their claims to live in Myanmar are at the heart of a toxic debate about the group, who are denied citizenship by the state and considered to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Suu Kyi’s repatriation pledge “is new and significant,” said Richard Horsey, an independent analyst based in Myanmar, explaining it could allow for the return of those who can prove residence in Myanmar — rather than citizenship.

But in the monsoon-soaked shanties in Bangladesh, there was anguish among refugees over how they would meet any requirements.

“We don’t have any papers,” said 55-year-old Abdur Razzak.

“If the government is honestly speaking to resolve our crisis, then we are ready to go back now,” he added. “Nobody wants to live in such squalid conditions as a refugee.”

– No more violence? –

Suu Kyi insisted army “clearance operations” finished on September 5.

But AFP reporters have seen homes on fire in the days since then, while multiple testimonies from refugees arriving in Bangladesh suggest such operations have continued.

Without blaming any group, Suu Kyi promised to punish anyone found guilty of abuses “regardless of their religion, race or political position.”

And she insisted Rakhine was not a state in flames, saying: “More than 50 percent of the villages of Muslims are intact.”

Around 170 Rohingya villages have been razed, the government admits. Rights groups say satellite evidence shows the damage is more widespread.

While stories of weary and hungry Rohingya have dominated global headlines, there is little sympathy for them among Myanmar’s Buddhist majority.

Around 30,000 ethnic Rakhine Buddhists as well as Hindus have also been displaced — apparent targets of August 25 attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

Loathing for the Rohingya has brought the public, including pro-democracy activists, into an unlikely alignment with an army that once had them under its heel.

Suu Kyi’s speech was warmly welcomed in Myanmar, even though no Burmese subtitles were provided.

“She told the real situation to the world on behalf of Myanmar people,” Yu Chan Myae told AFP.

AFP

Suu Kyi To Run Myanmar Foreign Ministry

Suu KyiAung San Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) won historic elections in Myanmar, is to take a formal role in the new cabinet.

The constitution bars Ms Suu Kyi from the presidency because her two sons are British citizens, as was her late husband. She had been widely expected not to take a ministry.

She had pledged to circumvent the ban by running the country through a proxy president, and last week the parliament nominated Suu Kyi’s confidant, Htin Kyaw, for the top job.

Until the cabinet nominations were read out to parliament by the speaker on Tuesday, it had been unclear whether Suu Kyi would join the executive or would seek to guide the government from outside as the leader of the ruling party.

The constitution also bars serving ministers from political party activities or sitting in parliament as lawmakers.

“It doesn’t matter how many ministries she takes, as she will run the whole government anyway,” said Win Htein, a senior NLD politician close to Suu Kyi.

The 18-member cabinet list submitted by President-elect Htin Kyaw to parliament did not specify the portfolios each minister would hold.

But a separate list obtained by Reuters from sources in parliament showed Nobel peace prize laureate Suu Kyi’s name next to four ministries: minister of the president’s office, foreign affairs, electric power and energy, and education.

It was unclear whether Suu Kyi would run all four departments when the new government takes office next month. A senior NLD member told Reuters her name was put forward for several ministries after some prospective candidates declined to join the cabinet at the last minute.

Holding the post of foreign minister would give Suu Kyi a seat on the National Defence and Security Council, an important presidential advisory group dominated by the still-powerful military.

“Aung San Suu Kyi will entrust the party in parliament in the hands of other NLD elders, as expected, and assume a role within the cabinet,” said Nyantha Maw Lin, Managing Director at political consultancy, Vriens & Partners in Yangon.

“She understands that ultimately, power lies with the executive, which holds the reins on the peace process, foreign policy, the economy, and most importantly, relations with the military.”

The list of proposed ministers also included some former senior government officials, as well as a member of the army-linked Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), reflecting Suu Kyi’s stated desire to form an inclusive government.

Myanmar Names Presidential Candidates, Disqualifies Suu Kyi

MyanmarMyanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) has nominated two candidates for the Presidency, as the country starts the process of selecting a new leader.

The party has named Htin Kyaw as its Lower House nominee for Vice President and a lawmaker from the Chin Ethnic minority, Henry Vantriu, as its Upper House nominee.

Both houses would separately choose between the NLD’s candidates and those from other parties.

The winner from each House would go on to a second vote which would also feature a military nominated candidate, to decide the President of the country.

The nominations confirmed that NLD leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, would not be Myanmar’s President.

However, Miss Suu Kyi had previously said that she would be ‘above’ the President.

Myanmar Begins New Parliament 

Myanmar Lawmakers in Myanmar are gathering for a new session of parliament where they are expected to choose the country’s first democratically elected government in over 50 years.

It is an assembly dominated by MPs from Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, which won 80% of elected seats in November’s poll.

Aung San Suu Kyi leads her National League for Democracy (NLD) party into Myanmar’s parliament, taking a majority of seats and starting the process of installing a democratically elected government.

Hundreds of NLD parliamentarians, many of them former political prisoners during successive military regimes, took their seats in the lower house on Monday morning.

A quarter of all seats are reserved for the military, which also retains key ministries under the constitution.

One of the new parliament’s first jobs will be to choose a new president.

Outgoing leader Thein Sein steps down at the end of March, but Ms Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest, is constitutionally barred from standing because her sons are British.

However, she has vowed to rule the country through the new leader.

Myanmar’s Former Military Ruler, Than Shwe Supports Suu Kyi

Myanmar electionMyanmar’s former military ruler, General Than Shwe, has pledged support for erstwhile foe, Aung San Suu Kyi, as the country’s ‘future leader’, in a secret meeting.

Details of the meeting between the two, which held of Friday, were revealed by General Than Shwe’s grandson, who acted as intermediary.

Ms Suu Kyi led her National League for Democracy (NLD) party to a landslide election victory in October.

The 80-year-old Than Shwe, who led Myanmar’s military junta until he stepped down in 2011, still wields enormous influence.

It is not clear whether General Shwe’s comments amount to a commitment to help Ms Suu Kyi change the clause of the constitution that bars her from becoming President because she has foreign children.