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President Thein Sein met with leaders from two major Arakanese parties on Wednesday to discuss the controversial sectarian unrest that rocked Burma’s western state in June.
The president sat down with Rakhine Nationalities Development Party’s chairman Dr Aye Maung and the Arakan League for Democracy’s Aye Thar Aung on 8 August, where the leader stressed the importance of maintaining stability in the country and urged the group to cooperate with the government in helping restore peace.
“The [president] discussed the domestic unrest, the international community’s perspective on it and the importance of stability in the country,” said Dr Aye Maung.
“He said there needs to be a way to let go of animosity and to work with the government to bring peace to the country as well as to uphold stability between the two communities to prevent [unrest from breaking out] in peaceful areas in Arakan state,” said the head of the RNDP. “For a political party like us, we have to be on the same page with the people and their opinions in order to last.”
The Arakanese party leaders prior to meeting with Thein Sein held talks with Tin Aye, chairman of the Union Election Commission, and several senior ranking military officials to discuss sectarian tension in Burma’s western state.
The meeting comes after a searing report was published earlier this month by Human Rights Watch that accused the government of not acting quickly enough to prevent the spread of violence in the state and for later targeting the Rohingya.
In July, Burma’s president told the UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres that the government was not prepared to recognise the Rohingya and asked for the body’s assistance in placing them in refugee camps and later resettling the group in a third country.
The plan was later rejected by the UNHCR.
The RNDP, which landed the second largest amount of votes in Arakan state in the 2010 general elections, had two members briefly detained in July in Mrauk-U township after the duo urged local Arakanese nationals who owned rice mills to only sell their goods to Arakanese people.
Dr Aye Maung recently came under fire in the international press for saying Burma should “be like Israel” – a underhanded reference to placing oppressive controls on the Rohingya’s movement within the country – and asked locals to defend the region against the Muslim minority who have been “repeatedly trespassing on our territory.”
The ALP, which won several seats in the annulled 1990 election and was later barred from participating in the country’s political landscape, re-registered as political party last February.