Myanmar President to Brief Military, Civilian Leaders on Rakhine, Other Int’l Issues

By Htet Naing Zaw 22 November 2019

NAYPYITAW—Myanmar President U Win Myint will brief senior military and government officials on the pressing international issues the country is facing, at the Presidential Residence in Naypyitaw on Saturday.

Union-level officials including military chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his deputy, as well as regional and state chief ministers, have been invited to the briefing, sources in Naypyitaw told The Irrawaddy.

Most journalists will be barred from the briefing, with just a limited number of crewmembers from state-owned media allowed to enter the meeting hall, according to sources close to the President’s Office.

It is likely that the President will brief the officials on the Rakhine issue and the legal proceedings against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Criminal Court.

“As Myanmar faces the [legal] cases as a country, it concerns all the institutions in Myanmar. It would be good if all [parties] can coordinate under a single leadership,” said Lower House lawmaker Daw Pyone Kathy Naing.

The lawmaker viewed the prosecution at the ICJ as an opportunity to disprove the allegations against the entire country.

Military spokesperson Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun declined to comment on the planned briefing, but said the military would fully cooperate with the government in responding to the prosecution.

“We are now working together to collect necessary information. We are working to provide information [to the government],” he said.

If so instructed by the government, Tatmadaw (or military) delegates will accompany State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on her trip to the ICJ in The Hague, the Netherlands.

However, Dr. Myo Nyunt, a spokesperson for the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), questioned the military’s cooperation.

“The Tatmadaw said it is cooperating. But there are questions about how much the civilian government has authority in security issues, and how much it can directly handle,” said Dr. Myo Nyunt.

“If it [the military] operates as a parallel government, we will not be able to solve the northern Rakhine issue,” he added.

In a democracy, it would be more appropriate for the military to serve under the elected government, he said.

A special meeting on the Rakhine issue was held on June 30 last year, but the most senior military officer present was deputy military chief Vice Senior General Soe Win. So there is speculation that Senior General Min Aung Hlaing will skip the meeting this time too.

Last year’s meeting was attended by then-President U Htin Kyaw, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the two vice presidents, the parliamentary speakers, Advocate General U Tun Tun Oo and national security adviser U Thaung Tun, as well as Home Minister Lieutenant General Kyaw Swe, Defense Minister Lieutenant General Sein Win and Border Affairs Minister Lieutenant General Ye Aung.