Myanmar nationalists angry over Kofi Annan led commission for Rakhine

Kofi Annan

Nationalists in Myanmar have accused the federal government of breaching sovereignty by convening former UN Chief Kofi Annan led advisory commission to formulate a long-term plan for the Rakhine State as they perceive the inclusion of international experts as growing international influence over local affairs.

The advisory commission is composed of three international experts including the commission chair Annan and six Myanmar nationals, including Myanmar National Human Rights Commission chair U Win Mra, reportsMyanmar Times.

The commission has been tasked with finding preventive measures for conflicts, ensuring humanitarian assistance, rights and reconciliation, establishing basic infrastructure and promoting development plans in the state.

After the State Counsellor's Office released a statement on August 24 saying it would soon be signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Kofi Annan Foundation about the commission the Arakan National Party (ANP) called for "abolishing the commission led by Kofi Annan".

The ANP accused the government and the newly created commission of being biased against Rakhine ethnics.

"Our party strongly rejects the three international persons, who lack knowledge about the history and status of the Rakhine ethnics, in the commission. The work of the commission will not be trusted by us. The statement [by the government] will cause not only the loss of the rights of all indigenous ethnics, but will also have a negative impact on the state's sovereignty," said ANP.

Thirteen Rakhine State MPs signed a letter sent to the state parliamentary Speaker calling for an emergency meeting to discuss the commission.

The Union Solidarity and Development Party echoed the ANP's statement, saying that inclusion of the international "outsiders" could render an internal state issue an international affair.

The USDP said the government is neglecting national interests and security by concentrating on human rights issues. The former ruling party also pledged to act as a watchdog over the commission.

The objection to the commission has also gained traction with the National Brotherhoods Federation, an alliance of 22 ethnic parties.

President's Office deputy director general U Zaw Htay said that Annan was appointed head of the commission due to growing international pressure over humanitarian concerns in Rakhine State and added that Annan's international clout should bolster the reputation and credentials of the commission.

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