USDP and Allies Call on Security Council to Intervene

By The Irrawaddy 25 January 2017

RANGOON — Burma’s main opposition party and its allies called on the National Defense and Security Council (NDSC) to intervene in security and rule of law issues that face the country.

The issues highlighted ranged from the question of accepting Rohingya back into the country who had previously fled, to the formation of the Arakan State Advisory Commission, to the appointment of a national security advisor.

A joint statement made by the country’s former ruling party—the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP)—and 14 other political parties on Tuesday said people’s socio-economic security was growing weaker and that state security was also at risk.

The joint statement said the current government has ignored parliamentary discussions, political parties’ concerns and suggestions regarding the formation of the Kofi Annan-led Arakan State Advisory Commission.

“The government failed to consult the NDSC while making an important decision like the formation of the commission,” it said, adding that the recent National Security Advisor appointment was made by the Union government without consultation as well.

The NDSC should handle security threats and rule of law issues facing the country, the statement said.

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. The military commands a 6-5 majority in the council.

Since the National League for Democracy government came to power in April, council members have not been called to meet.

The current council members consist of President U Htin Kyaw; the two vice presidents; the two parliamentary speakers; State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi; Home Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe; Border Affairs Minister Lt-Gen Ye Aung; military chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing; Lt-Gen Soe Win; and Defense Minister Lt-Gen Sein Win.

The joint statement also called for a clear explanation from either a relevant ministry or the government about the government’s plan for the Rohingya who fled following a security forces crackdown, stating that the public was “concerned” about the government accepting “a large number of non-citizens through the country’s back door.”

The UN said around 65,000 people have fled to neighboring Bangladesh fearing a further crackdown by government security forces after a series of local militant attacks on border guard outposts in October last year.

Earlier this month Burmese Special Envoy U Kyaw Tin met Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and discussed the issue of the Rohingya taking refuge in Bangladesh, according to Burma’s foreign affairs ministry.

Daw Aye Aye Soe, the deputy director-general of the foreign affairs ministry, told The Irrawaddy last week that the number would be verified by both sides and that those who fled the country would be brought back at a suitable time.

The USDP also held a discussion on state security and rule of law on Monday when its chairman U Than Htay indirectly criticized the new NLD-led government for not summoning a meeting of the NDSC despite attacks on police outposts in October in Arakan State’s Maungdaw Township.