Friday, September 11th, 2015


Three ethnic armed groups have called on the Myanmar government to include them in talks on a ceasefire being negotiated with other groups, after they had been excluded following clashes with the army near the border with China earlier this year.
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The increasing army presence to defend the construction of a controversial Salween river dam in southeastern Myanmar’s Shan state has sparked heightened concerns among rural villagers, who are determined to fight the development that threatens their livelihoods.
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A court has rejected the latest attempt by the defence to raise questions about the legal grounds of the trial of a prominent Buddhist cleric and his associates. U Than Tun Aung, the advocate for U Ottara – also known as London Saya-daw – and four others, had sought to cast doubt on a central plank of the prosecution’s case, concerning the ownership of the Mahasantisukha Monastery in Yangon’s Tarmwe township.
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Three ethnic armed groups fighting government forces in the Kokang border region insist they should be included in a nationwide ceasefire agreement and have rejected an apparent offer of direct talks with the president.
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Until a dialogue begins, government peace affiliate and Shan army representatives fear episodes of fighting will continue throughout the region.
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Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon has urged Myanmar’s president to review a set of controversial laws that could target religious minorities, saying the legislation will fragment “the dream of a united Myanmar” UCAnews reported on 10 September.
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President U Thein Sein has set 29 September as the date for the signing of the nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA).

President U Thein Sein giving a speechThe announcement was made before senior government representatives and top ethnic armed group leaders at a high profile meeting held at Myanmar Convention Center (2), in Naypyitaw, on 9 September.
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Thousands thronged to see Aung San Suu Kyi’s first rally on Thursday as the Myanmar opposition leader launched her bid for historic November elections by touring a remote eastern region seen as a stronghold of the ruling party.
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Burma’s parliamentary house speaker Shwe Mann launched his election campaign on Friday in the Pegu Division constituency of Phyu, where he is seeking a Lower House seat in November’s polls.
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Burmese embassies in Thailand and Singapore have announced the advance polling dates for Burmese nationals abroad, ahead of the upcoming 8 November general election.
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A close ally of President Thein Sein has backed projects worth tens of thousands of dollars in his constituency, including satellite dishes, water distribution and a soccer competition ahead of Nov. 8 elections, villagers and local campaign staff said.
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Until a few months ago, Mi Kon Chan was running a company that distributes skincare and other cosmetic products imported from Australia, Italy and Switzerland.
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If election watchers have been underwhelmed by the campaign rollouts of Burma’s biggest political parties this week, even less impressive has been the campaign trail presence of the dozens of parties that will struggle to make their voices heard above the inevitable din of a highly anticipated electoral contest.
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As campaigning continues for 8 November elections, wide-ranging discrimination continues to be a serious concern as Rohingya Muslims, Myanmar Chinese and Myanmar Indians are not allowed to participate in the political process even though they were allowed to vote in the 2010 election and the 2012 by-elections.
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Former telecoms minister U Thein Tun – fired by U Thein Sein’s government in 2013 on the eve of a major corruption investigation – is making a comeback bid.
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Many workers in Myanmar are in line for a raise following the sudden introduction of a long-discussed minimum wage. For businesses, however, the government announcement has generated concerns over staffing costs and export competitiveness with rivals in neighboring economies.
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The US Treasury department is reportedly looking into the use of Asia World Port Terminal (AWPT) after receiving a joint letter from two US associations, warning that sanctions on the port could spur a de-facto trade embargo on Myanmar.
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Myanmar’s forests are in trouble. Two recent reports reveal the rapid loss of tree cover over the past five years has been so severe Myanmar ranks among the worst for deforestation in the world.
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Independent forensics tests on a garden hoe Thai police believe was used to kill two British backpackers on a holiday island show no matches to the DNA of two Burmese migrant workers accused of their murder, their lawyer said on Friday.
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Bangladesh may shelve an $8 billion deepwater port project it has been negotiating with China, a government minister said on Thursday, as it looks to pursue a nearby facility financed by the Japanese instead.
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