Monday, 06 July 2020

Maungdaw, Arakan State: Former deputy minister of home affairs, Brig-Gen Phone Swe, arrived in Maungdaw yesterday evening to help campaign for Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) candidates, according to an official in Maungdaw.

Yesterday’s arrival is Phone Swe’s second visit to the area since August and was expected to stay overnight.

The official said the former minister traveled by car through Maungdaw Alaythankyaw, and Aahngumaw (Magyichaung).

An election watchdog group in Maungdaw said Phone Swe called all senior members of the USDP and its candidates for the November 7 elections, as well as Arakanese Rohingya religious leaders and local village elders to a meeting at 4pm yesterday at the party’s proxy organization the Regional Development Association (RDA).

More than 300 people were said to have attended the meeting, during which Phone Swe directed party officials and local village leaders to secure support for the USDP and promising that if successful, the party would provide development support for the area.

Phone Swe said the government would provide 6 billion kyats to fund the building of two girls’ high schools, a hospital and a new highway connecting Maungdaw, Alaythankyaw and Aahngumaw (Magyichaung), providing easier access to Akyab, the capital of Arakan State, the watchdog group said.

The group noted, however, that no mention was made of easing restrictions on the area’s Rohingya population, which include prohibitions on free movement, and constructing or repairing religious buildings such as mosques and madrasas, or Islamic religious schools.

Major San Win Khine, commanding officer of the Burma border security force Nasaka in Area 5, also reportedly called villagers and religious leaders to his office and ordered them to support the USDP in next month’s election, said a village authority member..

An elder from Maungdaw said USDP campaign promises and those made by officials from Burma’s ruling junta were not to be trusted.

“High-ranking officers of the junta are always promising new facilities for Arakanese Rohingyas, but these are never implemented by local authorities. The officers never sign orders for these facilities. It’s all just talk,”  said a elder from Maungdaw