RANGOON – Myanmar’s Parliamentary house speaker Shwe Mann took time out on Wednesday to welcome UN goodwill ambassador Angelina Jolie Pitt to parliament.
According to a press release issued by the British embassy in Rangoon, Angelina Jolie Pitt is visiting Myanmar (Burma) ‘to learn more about the situation in the country and encourage efforts to build a peaceful and inclusive future for all its people.
“Angelina Jolie Pitt will carry out engagements in her capacity as Co-Founder of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, and as UNHCR special envoy will carry out field visits to displaced people in Burma’s conflict-affected states.”
“She will meet local people who are working on human rights and inter-faith relations, and groups carrying out projects to promote women’s rights, voter education and participation ahead of the forthcoming elections,” it added.
Angelina said in the press release that she will meet many groups of people in Myanmar “to learn firsthand from them about their concerns and hopes for the future of their country.”
“With elections on the horizon in November it is an important moment for people to exercise their democratic rights and help to address the fundamental issues critical to a peaceful future,” she added.
Myanmar will hold general elections on Nov 8.
Angelina arrived in Myanmar from Cambodia, where she was visiting health, education and conservation projects funded by the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation since 2003, and beginning preparations to direct the film ‘First They Killed My Father’ based on a child’s experience of the years of turmoil in Cambodia.
This is her first visit to the country. Last year, she visited Karenni refugees at a Thai-Myanmar border camp in Mae Hong Son province in her capacity as a special envoy for UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
According to the UNHCR website: “Angelina Jolie Pitt previously represented UNHCR as a Goodwill Ambassador, and in this role she conducted more than 40 field visits around the world, becoming well-versed in the phenomenon of forced displacement and a tireless advocate on their behalf.”
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday registered to run for a general election which her party is expected to sweep, as the ruling bloc admitted it was bracing for big losses.
Hundreds of cheering supporters gathered in the township of Thanlyin, a two-hour drive from Rangoon, as Suu Kyi formally registered her intention to stand again for the rural constituency of Kawhmu in November polls.
Relations have soured dramatically between the still powerful army and the party’s influential leader and parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann, who is widely considered a presidential hopeful.
Shwe Mann has faced opposition from soldiers in his constituency in recent days over his readiness to support Suu Kyi in her efforts to change the constitution, which bars the opposition leader from top political office.
But the former junta number three posted comments on his official Facebook page insisting he acted “in the interest of the country” and suggested he was ready to defy both the army and President Thein Sein.