Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rakhine chief minister resigns in unclear circumstances

The resignation of the chief minister of Rakhine State on June 19 had been expected for several months, sources told The Myanmar Times last week, as a senior government official said he left because of his deteriorating health and concerns over his ability to manage the troubled state’s affairs.

U Hla Maung Tin, a member of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party, “resigned of his own volition”, according to an announcement printed in state-run media.

Presidential spokesperson U Ye Htut told The Myanmar Times last week that U Hla Maung Tin resigned because of his worsening health situation.

“U Hla Maung Tin is well regarded by the [president] for his efforts toward the development and tranquility of Rakhine State,” U Ye Htut said.

“He thought he would not be able to handle the challenges facing Rakhine State so he put forward a letter of resignation and the government accepted it.”

Several sources told The Myanmar Times that rumours of his impending departure had been spreading since Buddhist rioters damaged INGO offices in the state capital Sittwe in late March.

“As far as I know he presented himself for resignation two months ago,” said Rakhine State Hluttaw MP U Aung Mra Kyaw. “He has been facing some pressure from the international community, the union parliament, the regional parliament and at the state level.”

However, U Aung Mra Kyaw said the chief minister had resigned voluntarily. The MP added that a regional parliament session would be called at the end of this month to discuss the issue further but it will be up to President U Thein Sein to name a successor.

U Aung Mra Kyaw speculated that U Hla Maung Tin might be succeeded by a serving member of the military, as the government may believe an officer will be better placed to maintain order in the state, which has been hit by successive waves of violence since June 2012 that have left hundreds dead and around 140,000 displaced.