United States diplomat resigns, says Suu Kyi lacks moral leadership

Erika Holt
January 26, 2018

The Myanmar State Counsellor's Office said in a statement that Richardson was pursuing his own agenda and had exceeded the mandate of the Advisory Board on Rakhine State.

Forsyth's comments came as former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson resigned suddenly from an advisory panel on the crisis, calling it a "whitewash and a cheerleading operation" for Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Richardson, a former Clinton administration cabinet member, quit as the 10-member advisory board was making its first visit to western Rakhine State, from which almost 700,000 Rohingyahave fled in recent months.

Richardson, a former USA ambassador to the United Nations and governor of New Mexico, issued his strongly worded resignation letter early Thursday morning, following it up with a series of public statements describing the Suu Kyi's "furious" and "quivering" reaction to his desire to discuss the detainment of two Reuters journalists. He also described her "furious" reaction when he brought up the case of two Reuters journalists arrested while covering the crisis.

"The government decided that his continued participation on the board would not be in the best interest of all concerned", the statement said.

The board was informed that Richardson "had to be asked to leave", it said.

He also described the advisory board's lack of commitment to long-term solutions to the Rohingya refugee crisis, Suu Kyi's refusal to discuss Myanmar's detention of journalists, and Myanmar officials' constant disparagement of the media, human rights organizations, and the UN.

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"It is heartbreaking to see her indulging in similar practices, now that she is in power", Bergman added.

Improved security and unimpeded humanitarian access in Myanmar are essential before Rohingya children can be returned from Bangladesh, a senior official of the United Nations children's agency has said."Some 58 per cent of the refugees are children, many of whom are still traumatized by their experiences of violence", said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth on Wednesday, speaking from the Kutapalong refugee camp in southern Bangladesh."It is critical that their rights and needs in terms of protection and aid are front and centre in any agreement to return families to Myanmar".

Former South African Defence Minister Roelof Petrus Meyer, one of the four remaining global members of the board, said Richardson's departure was "really unfortunate".

"The security will be provided.the subject is so internationally covered so I don't think people should be scared", he said.

The advisory body was organized in December by President U Htin Kyaw to provide suggestions to the committee tasked to implement the recommendations made by the Kofi Annan-led commission in mid-2017 after investigating the troubles in northern Rakhine in late 2016.

Thursday's statement from Suu Kyi's office said the government was committed to "implementing the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State to the fullest extent possible and in the shortest timeframe, in accordance with the situation on the ground".

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