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US Diplomat: If Suu Kyi Was Closer, 'She Might Have Hit Me'

Bill Richardson resigns from advisory panel after argument with Myanmar leader
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2018 8:11 AM CST
US Diplomat: If Suu Kyi Was Closer, 'She Might Have Hit Me'
During an interview with the Associated Press, Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he has resigned from an advisory panel trying to tackle the massive Rohingya refugee crisis.   (AP Photo/Thet Htoo)

(Newser) – Bill Richardson's resume is a long one: He's the former New Mexico governor, US ambassador to the UN, energy secretary under Bill Clinton, and member of the Advisory Board on Rakhine State. That last role is no longer a current one, and that fact is making waves. Richardson resigned Wednesday from the international panel convened by Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi to advise on the Rohingya refugee crisis, and he had harsh words for Suu Kyi, whom Richardson has known for decades and says he likes "enormously," reports the BBC. In comments to Reuters, he called the panel a "whitewash" and a "cheerleading squad for the government." The resignation was spurred by a Monday argument that occurred as Richardson was in Myanmar.

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He raised the topic of the two Reuters reporters on trial—they were covering the Rohingya crisis and are accused of violating the Official Secrets Act—and got a "furious" reaction from Suu Kyi, he says, who saw the topic as outside the purview of the board. "Her face was quivering, and if she had been a little closer to me, she might have hit me," he tells the New York Times, adding she has "developed an arrogance of power." He says the argument resumed at dinner. Myanmar's response, per the BBC, is that Richardson should "review himself over his personal attack." The Los Angeles Times says the resignation of "probably the panel's most prominent member ... offers possible insight into the thinking of Suu Kyi." Richardson's take: "She blames all the problems that Myanmar is having on the international media, on the UN, on human rights groups, on other governments, and I think this is caused by the bubble that is around her, by individuals that are not giving her frank advice." (Read more Rohingya stories.)

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