Cardinal calls on next govt to cancel Myitsone project

YANGON — Myanmar’s Cardinal Charles Maung Bo has called on the incoming government to halt the controversial US$3.8 billion Myitsone dam project on the Ayeryarwady River in Kachin State, reported last week.

The cardinal cited National League for Democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as having said before the November 8 election won by her party that a government was elected by support from the people.

“So if she really wants to fulfill the desire of the people, she should try to end the project completely. And she should follow the desire of the ethnic Kachin people,” quoted him as saying in a December 3 report.

In September 2011, President U Thein Sein suspended work on the project for the duration of his term in office in response to escalating protests against the project to dam the Ayeyarwady.

The former military junta signed an agreement with China’s state-backed China Power Investment to build to dam in 2006. The agreement provided for most of the electricity generated by the dam to be exported to China.

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“The Irrawaddy is our mother and our life-blood river so ending the project is not only the will of ethnic Kachins but also the people of Myanmar,” Cardinal Charles Maung Bo said.

He promised to discuss the issue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi when he has a chance to meet her, said, a website operated by the Hong Kong-based Union of Catholic Asian News.

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo also raised concerns about the Chinese-backed Letpadaung copper mine in Sagaing Region.

“No matter how (much) we need good relationships with neighbouring countries such as China, the Suu Kyi-led new government should consider the will of the people in Myanmar,” the cardinal told in an interview in Yangon.

The former archbishop of Yangon was installed as Myanmar’s first cardinal in a ceremony at St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in February this year.

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