Parliament halts discussion on Rakhine after military objection to ‘dictator’ remarks


NAY PYI TAW — The Amyotha Hluttaw has scrubbed part of its Tuesday session from the record, after military MPs objected to a lawmaker characterising the long-running conflict in Rakhine State as the fault of the former ruling junta.

During a discussion of the present situation in Rakhine, Daw Ei Ei Pyone (National League for Democracy, Ayeyarwady-8) gave a speech blaming the state’s lack of development and communal tensions on a “bad dictatorial regime”.

She added that the emergence of “terrorist movements” in the state, a reference to last year’s attacks on security posts by the Arakan Rohingya Solidarity Army, had arising from corruption around the citizenship scrutiny process which successive governments had failed to resolve.

Ei Ei Pyone also said that the security situation in Rakhine was tenuous despite the Tatmadaw’s large budget, provoking a strong reaction from military appointees in the chamber.

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Major-General Than Soe rose to complain about the NLD MP’s comments, telling the chamber that the military “does not accept that we are spending a lot of the budget”.

“There’s another thing to ask,” Than Soe said. “What did she mean ‘bad dictatorial regime’? Who did she mean? We want to know clearly. We don’t accept the branding of successive governments as bad dictatorial regimes.”

He then demanded that Amyotha Hluttaw speaker U Mahn Win Khaing Than expunge Ei Ei Pyone’s comments from the parliamentary record, a request that was promptly granted.

U Okkar Min (NLD, Tanintharyi-8), stood up to object to the decision, but his speech could not be heard in the chamber because the speaker would not allow him the use of a microphone.

“We accept that the country is in a democratic transitional period,” Okkar Min told reporters after the session. “But every person knows what a dictatorial regime we had in the past.”

Lawmakers had been discussing a broader proposal moved by U Khin Maung Latt (Arakan National Party, Rakhine-3).

His proposal urged the government to take action against ARSA and other insurgent movements in Maungdaw, Buthidaung and Rathedaung townships.

Discussion of the proposal is continuing through the rest of the week.

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