By Kyaw Ye Lynn
YANGON, Myanmar (AA) – Myanmar’s state counselor-cum-foreign minister Aung San Suu Kyi has underlined that economic development is the key to stability in a troubled impoverished western state that is home to a majority of the country’s Rohingya Muslim population.
State media reported Saturday that the leader of the country's ruling National League for Democracy had discussed matters related to peace and tranquility in Rakhine, development undertakings and a citizenship verification process with cabinet members and the chief minister of the state's regional government in political capital Nay Pyi Taw on Friday.
“Aung San Suu Kyi said she believes the peace and stability of Rakhine state depends on development,” a government official from the Ministry of Labor, Immigration and Population told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.
“Therefore, she suggests both union and regional governments implement development projects quickly and successfully,” the man -- who asked not to be named as he is not the ministry's official spokesperson -- said by phone.
For years, Rakhine -- home to more than million Rohingya (described by the United Nations as the world's most persecuted minority group) -- has been troubled by communal violence, with many Rohingya still confined to internally displaced person camps following fighting between ethnic Buddhists and Muslims in 2012.
The official added that Suu Kyi has also suggested regional governments carry out pilot projects for a citizenship verification process in the state as soon as possible.
In Feb. 2015, authorities halted a pilot project for the verification process for Muslims in Rakhine after most identified themselves as Rohingya.
Hardline nationalists refuse to recognize the term, instead referring to the ethnic group as "Bengali", which suggests they are illegal immigrants from neighboring country Bangladesh.
The government official told Anadolu Agency Saturday that the pilot project had yet to be restarted, despite media reports to the contrary.
Rakhine is one of the poorest states in Myanmar, and scarcity and under-development affects the majority Buddhist, and Muslim and Christian communities -- a situation that was exacerbated by the violence of 2012, which led to ruptures in inter-communal social and economic links.