Lobbyist says Myanmar junta needs to enhance relations with the West, spurn China

By Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON, March 6 (Reuters) – An Israeli-Canadian lobbyist employed by Myanmar’s junta mentioned on Saturday that the generals are eager to go away politics after their coup and search to enhance relations with america and distance themselves from China.

Ari Ben-Menashe, a former Israeli army intelligence official who has beforehand represented Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Sudan’s army rulers, mentioned Myanmar’s generals additionally need to repatriate Rohingya Muslims who fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

The United Nations says greater than 50 demonstrators have been killed for the reason that Feb. 1 coup when the army overthrew and detained elected chief Aung San Suu Kyi, whose Nationwide League for Democracy occasion received polls in November by a landslide.

On Friday, a U.N. particular envoy urged the Safety Council to take motion towards the junta for the killings of protesters.

In a phone interview, Ben-Menashe mentioned he and his agency Dickens & Madson Canada had been employed by Myanmar’s generals to assist talk with america and different international locations who he mentioned “misunderstood” them.

He mentioned Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s de facto chief since 2016, had grown too near China for the generals’ liking.

“There’s an actual push to maneuver in the direction of the West and america versus making an attempt to get nearer to the Chinese language,” Ben-Menashe mentioned. “They do not need to be a Chinese language puppet.”

President Joe Biden’s administration has denounced the coup and imposed sanctions on the military and companies it controls. A U.S. State Division official declined to remark.

Ben-Menashe mentioned he was talking from South Korea after a go to to Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, the place he signed an settlement with the junta’s protection minister, Normal Mya Tun Oo. He mentioned he could be paid an undisclosed charge if sanctions on the army are lifted.

A spokesman for the army authorities didn’t reply calls looking for touch upon Saturday.

Ben-Menashe mentioned he had been tasked with contacting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to get their assist for a plan to repatriate the Rohingya, a Muslim minority. A whole bunch of 1000’s of Rohingya fled army assaults in 2016 and 2017 during which troopers killed indiscriminately, raped ladies and torched homes, in response to a U.N. fact-finding mission.

“It is principally making an attempt to get them some funding for the return of what they name the Bengalis,” mentioned Ben-Menashe, utilizing a time period some in Myanmar use for the Rohingya to indicate they don’t seem to be from the nation.

A whole bunch of 1000’s of individuals have protested in virtually each city and metropolis in Myanmar for weeks demanding the discharge of Suu Kyi and respect for the outcomes of November’s election, which the army says was marred by fraud.

Ben-Menashe mentioned the junta may show the vote was rigged, and that ethnic minorities have been blocked from voting, however offered no proof. Election observers have mentioned there have been no main irregularities.

He mentioned that on his two visits to the nation for the reason that coup, “disturbances weren’t that widespread” and the protest motion was not supported by most Myanmar individuals.

Ben-Menashe mentioned police have been dealing with protests, not the army, regardless of images and video footage of armed troopers on the demonstrations. He argued that the army was greatest positioned to supervise a return to democracy after the coup it staged.

“They need to get out of politics utterly,” he mentioned, “nevertheless it’s a course of.”

(Reporting by Simon Lewis; Modifying by Daniel Wallis)

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