Twenty junta-appointed ward and village administrators resigned from their jobs in northern Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township last week, citing “impossible” conditions under the current regime.
One of the administrators told Myanmar Now that the decision came amid growing tension between local people and junta authorities in the township.
“We were seen as people supporting a government mechanism that the public didn’t like. We became unable to lead the villagers whenever there was a problem. All we could do was issue travel papers and handle funds,” he said.
At the same time, he said, higher-level authorities also viewed them with mistrust. He added that he has been forced to flee for his safety since submitting his resignation.
The officials who resigned came from 19 wards and villages: Ku Taung, Kat Chaung, Kan Pyin, Kyat Yoe Sat, Sar Pyin Gyi, Sar Pyin Chay, Oo Gar, Pan Zin Maw, Nyaung Pinle, Zee Kaing, Letpan Pin Yin, Myin Kan Chaung, Phyu Chaung, Yay Pike Sone, Min Gan, Thazi Daunt, Kyun Gyi, Shwe Laung Tin and Anauk Pyin.
Last month, more than 70 village administrators in Ponnagyun Township also resigned, citing “difficulties in operating amid the conflict” between the junta and the Arakan Army (AA). Despite a temporary truce that went into effect late last month, tensions remain high in the state.
Aung Thaung Shwe, a former member of parliament, interpreted the administrators’ resignations as a sign that they recognised the public’s rejection of the dictatorship and were unwilling to serve the junta themselves.
“It’s possible they decided to quit because they knew the public didn’t prefer them over other administrative forces. It’s a certainty that administrative operations will be unworkable when they don’t have the people’s support,” he said.
He added that in many rural parts of Rakhine State, the administrative apparatus run by the United League of Arakan, the AA’s political wing, has gained support amid growing animosity toward the junta.
Local administrators have been a frequent target of attack by anti-regime forces in many parts of Myanmar since the February 2021 coup.
In Rakhine State, many have also faced arrest and charges of unlawful association stemming from their suspected involvement with AA forces active in the state.
Since May, at least 10 ward administrators have been arrested in Minbya, Kyaukphyu, Sittwe, Buthidaung, Maungdaw and Paletwa townships, according to local sources.