USDP and Allies Take Concerns to Military Chief

By San Yamin Aung 20 July 2017

YANGON — Myanmar’s largest opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and its allies submitted an undisclosed letter to Commander-in-Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, after holding two days of meetings regarding the country’s current affairs.

The former ruling, military-backed USDP held meetings with 13 other opposition parties on July 15 and July 18 at the party headquarters in Yangon. The groups discussed politics, the economy, security, rule of law and other social affairs of the country.

National Development Party general secretary U Aung Phyo Kyaw told The Irrawaddy that after the second meeting on July 18, the 14 parties in attendance sent a letter to the Myanmar Army chief to present their views on issues that the country faces.

Recommendations on Rakhine State and security issues were included in the letter, according to U Aung Phyo Kyaw, but specific details remain undisclosed.

“It is not secretive. We have reported out suggestions to the military chief and will most likely release them publicly after receiving comments from him,” he said.

“Based on what we see as the needs of the country, we addressed the army chief. If we need to present this to the president, we will do so.”

The 14 parties urged the National Defense and Security Council (NDSC), of which the military commands a 6-5 majority, to intervene in security and rule of law issues facing the country in January.

The 11-member NDSC was formed under former President U Thein Sein’s administration and is empowered by the Constitution to formulate policy regarding certain military and security issues, including the right to petition the president to declare a nationwide state of emergency. Since the National League for Democracy government came to power in April, council members have not been called to meet.

Earlier this month, the USDP and its allies called for martial law in troubled areas in Rakhine State, citing security concerns after recent civilian attacks, violent threats against both the Muslim and Rakhine communities and tunnels and arms found by the military belonging to alleged “terrorist” groups.