Published: Tue, January 30, 2018
Health Care | By Alice Shelton

'Absence of moral leadership': USA diplomat quits Myanmar panel

'Absence of moral leadership': USA diplomat quits Myanmar panel

Myanmar officials on Thursday said it made the decision to dump U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson from an advisory panel on the Rohingya crisis, accusing the veteran politician of a "personal attack" on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in his stinging resignation letter.

Myanmar's de facto leader, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi established the board in December.

Former US ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who has known Suu Kyi for over 30 years and visited her during her lengthy period of house arrest, told CNN this week "she's changed, she's become, unfortunately, a politician afraid of the military and afraid to make the tough decisions to resolve one of the worst humanitarian crises in history".

President Rodrigo Duterte attends a state dinner with Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyitaw, Myanmar in this March 20, 2017 file photo.

He publicly expressed concern that Surakiart was not "genuinely committed" to implementing the recommendations made last August, just as the current crisis erupted, by the Rakhine Advisory Commission led by former United Nations chief Kofi Annan.

Worldwide members of the board visited Myanmar between Monday and Thursday as it had its first meetings with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other key officials in her government.

"Now she is heavily criticized", said Duterte.

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"Nobody should use this case for their personal advantage, such as to seek popularity or publicity", said U Aung Hla Tun, who added that putting pressure on the government in connection with the two detainees could be "counterproductive".

A Myanmar government spokesman hit back on Thursday, accusing the former New Mexico Governor Richardson of over-stepping the mark in his stinging resignation letter.

"Aung San Suu Kyi was with us".

On January 16, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on "Physical Arrangement" which will facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland following a deal between the two countries in November a year ago regarding the repatriation.

The vast Kutupalong camp shelters numerous 688,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled across the border from Myanmar's Rakhine State following an outbreak of violence there in late August past year. Inside Myanmar the Rohingya are widely regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh even though many have lived there for generations.

Suu Kyi's government said on Friday it did not want discuss the details of the exchange between Suu Kyi and Richardson any further.

She has experienced sustained global condemnation in recent months regarding her perceived silence over the exodus of Rohingya refugees from northern Rakhine's Maungdaw District following military operations there. "I just felt that my advice and counsel would not be heeded".

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