Myanmar leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visits Rakhine town despite explosions

State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi arrives to Thandwe Airport via helicopter after meeting the public at Manaung town, Rakhine, on December 19. Photo: State Counsellor Office/Facebook. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NAY PYI TAW, Dec 21, 2019, Myanmar Times. State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday arrived in Manaung town, which was rocked with explosions. The de facto Myanmar leader was accompanied by senior officials. She was met at the Manaung Airport by Rakhine State and Manaung local officials, Myanmar Times reported.

The State Counsellor was to attend the opening ceremony of a solar power plant in the town. She was also to meet with local residents.

Construction of the solar power plant started last year. The project is a partnership between the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, the Rakhine government, and South Korea’s POSCO Daewoo Corp.

Last week, local NLD members organised a demonstration in Manaung to show their support for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as she led a team to defend the country against a genocide lawsuit filed by Gambia at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

A few hours before her arrival, three suspected improvised bombs exploded near the town airport where the State Counsellor’s helicopter landed but no injuries were reported, a military source and local residents said.

“The explosions occurred near the airport this morning,” the source said.

Residents near the area said they heard at least three explosions, but the damage was minimal.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi visited Maungdaw township in northern Rakhine in November 2017, three months after the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched deadly attacks on government outposts and the Tatmadaw (military) responded with a brutal counterinsurgency campaign that caused more than 700,000 people to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Aside from ARSA, security forces are also fighting the Arakan Army.

During the past year, fighting between government forces and Arakan Army intensified, displacing thousands of villagers in Rakhine and nearby Chin State.

The Arakan Army, which was founded in 2009, is comprised of predominantly Buddhist ethnic Rakhine people who are demanding more autonomy.

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