USDP Refuses to Make Recommendations to Arakan State Advisory Commission

By San Yamin Aung 15 May 2017

RANGOON— Burma’s main opposition and former ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) refused to make recommendations to the Arakan State Advisory Commission in a meeting on Sunday.

Members of the Kofi Annan-led Arakan State Advisory Commission met with USDP chairman U Than Htay and the party’s central executive committee members on Sunday. They previously met with the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party’s central executive committee members in Rangoon on Friday to discuss their upcoming final report.

“The commission explained what they had done and asked for comments on their interim report [launched in March] and recommendations for their final report,” Dr. Nanda Hla Myint, a USDP spokesperson who was in the meeting, told The Irrawaddy.

The commission will submit a final report to the government in August.

“Since its formation, we have announced that we don’t recognize the commission. So, as a party, we refused to comment,” Nanda Hla Myint said.

The USDP objected to the formation of the commission, stating that the government was allowing foreign interference in internal affairs.

State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi founded the commission in August last year as an impartial body to recommend “lasting solutions to complex and delicate issues” in Arakan State. It is composed of six locals and three international experts, and is chaired by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“Though we didn’t make any recommendations, our chairman and party’s CEC members – who have served as Union foreign, border and immigration affairs ministers and handled Arakan State issues in the past – shared their personal experience on the issues,” said Nanda Hla Myint.

USDP chairman U Than Htay said the party’s objection to the commission still holds. He also said the citizenship verification process in Arakan State has been delayed as changing race and ethnicity classifications has been prioritized over gaining citizenship – referring to the Rohingya Muslims, who have long been stateless and kept in apartheid-like conditions in Burma, which does not recognize them as citizens but instead as interlopers from Bangladesh.

The Irrawaddy was unable to reach commission members for comment at the time of publication.

CORRECTION: This article was edited to correct erroneous information that the commission had met with Burma Army commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing.