Myanmar Military-Appointed Administrators Rejected by Local People

By The Irrawaddy 26 February 2021

YANGON—Local residents in some regions and states are staging protests against new ward administrators appointed by the Myanmar military regime that seized power on Feb. 1.

The State Administrative Council (SAC) of the military regime has been replacing ward and village administrators since the second week of February after forming district and township-level administrative councils.

In Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing, Magwe and Ayeyarwady regions and Karen State, local residents have banged pots and pans in front of ward administration offices to show their disapproval of the military-appointed administrators.

In Yangon’s Tamwe Township on Thursday, the protest was so large that riot police and military convoys had to be mobilized. Amid confrontations with residents, police fired warning shots and made some arrests.

In North Okkalapa Township, hundreds of local residents staged protests against the military-appointed administrators on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

“The administrators and the groups which they call law enforcement teams are core members of the USDP [Union Solidarity and Development Party] as well as ex-convicts. We can’t accept them. We couldn’t even accept saints if they were appointed by the military, because those appointed by the military will do as they are told by the military,” said Daw Mi Mi Win, who participated in the protest.

In a number of wards in North Okkalapa, local residents have locked up the ward administration offices and hung posters reading: “This ward will be managed by ward residents themselves. No administrative officials shall be accepted at this office as of today.” Some posters call the appointees “traitors to the state.”

Similar protests also took place in several other townships including Sanchaung, Thingangyun, Tamwe, Kyimyindaing, Hline, Mayangone and Thanlyin through Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We will oppose and condemn any pillar of the military council. We won’t accept their rule. Everyone knows how the stooges of the military bullied us during the times of [ex-military dictator] U Than Shwe,” said U Kyaw Thiha, a resident of Sanchaung Township.

Due to opposition from local residents, 11 ward administrators in Hline, 42 in Dagon Seikkan, and four in Kyauktan have submitted their resignations.

“I don’t want to take this job while people are in such strong opposition. I have lived in this ward since I was young, and I don’t want to be hated by the community by dancing to the tune of dictators,” said a military-appointed ward administrator who submitted his resignation.

In a ward in Sagaing in central Myanmar, residents opposing the military-appointed administrator have assigned a Buddhist monk to take the helm of the ward’s affairs temporarily. In several villages in Myaung Township of Sagaing, local residents said they would manage their villages by themselves until the elected government is back in office.

Previously, ward and village administrators were directly elected by residents under the Ward and Village-Tract Administration Law. They are now directly appointed by the township administrative councils formed by the military regime.

Besides replacing the ward administrators, the township administrative councils are forming ward security and rule of law teams in every ward. The teams are reportedly formed to facilitate the rule of law. Locals in some townships are also staging protests against those teams.

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