Arakan villagers forced to wait to greet PM

Jan 28, 2009 (DVB), Villagers in Butheetaung and Maung-Daw townships in Arakan state were disappointed when prime minister Thein Sein failed to make a scheduled trip to the area on Monday after they had been forced to gather to welcome him.

It is still not clear why the prime minister cancelled his visit but local residents have speculated that the cloudy weather and fog made it difficult for helicopters to land in the area.

A local resident said villagers were forced to wait all day for the prime minister, and were not given any food.

"Most of the people who live here are poor and survive on daily wages earned from manual labour," the local said.

"They had to set aside all their work for the day to come here and wait for the prime minister," he said.

"They were waiting from 10 in the morning and authorities didn’t let them go home until four in the afternoon."

Security was tightened in the region ahead of the prime minister's visit, with people’s militias and army soldiers deployed along the May-Yu mountain strip.

Reporting by Khin Maung Soe Min

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