The UN Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Burma Vijay Nambiar on Monday concluded his eighth official visit to the country in the past year, after a week in which he met a host of senior officials in Naypyidaw, discussed the resumption of international aid with community leaders in Arakan State and attended a round of ceasefire talks in Rangoon as an observer.
According to a UN statement, Nambiar attended tripartite talks between the a government delegation, ethnic representatives and political party leaders on 18 August in Rangoon, where he “conveyed a key message to all stakeholders to take a leap of faith and to set aside all narrow agendas in the common interest of peace and a unified Myanmar [Burma].”
On Friday in Naypyidaw, the UN special advisor was received by President Thein Sein and held discussions with senior officials, including: Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin; President’s Office ministers Soe Thein and Aung Min; Minister for Immigration and Population Affairs Khin Yi; and the new chief minister of Arakan State, Maung Maung Ohn.
He also met with parliamentary House Speaker Shwe Mann and Deputy Commander-in-Chief Vice-Snr-Gen Soe Win, before holding consultations with members of political parties, ethnic armed groups, civil society, aid agencies, women and youth organisations, as well as with diplomatic representatives, the UN Information Centre in Rangoon said.
Nambiar did not, on this occasion, meet with Burmese opposition leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi, whom he spoke with on an earlier visit in July.
Visiting restive Arakan State, where communal mob violence has forced 140,000 people from their homes and into shelters over the past two years, Nambiar discussed with local authorities the need for the urgent resumption of humanitarian aid, saying such a move “would help address prevailing tensions and pave the way for sustainable solutions”.
But the UN envoy was met in part with resistance among members of the Arakanese community who took exception to his views on human rights and citizenship with regard to Rohingya Muslims.
Khine Kaung Zan, a representative of the Wonlet Foundation, said, “We told the UN envoy that the Bengalis [Rohingyas] should follow and respect the Constitution and laws of our country. And, we told him, we know from experience that some external influences are supporting the Bengalis.”
He added that the Arakanese Buddhist representatives urged the UN special advisor to ensure that aid is provided equally to both communities in Arakan State by international agencies.