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Burmese leaders congratulate Trump on victory

US President-Elect Donald Trump (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikipedia)

Burma’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Htin Kyaw have joined other world leaders in congratulating American billionaire real-estate developer Donald Trump on his victory in this year’s US presidential election.

In letters penned on Wednesday, both Burmese leaders addressed Trump as “Your Excellency” in acknowledgment of his newfound status as president-elect of the United States.

In her missive, Suu Kyi formally extended her best wishes to Trump “for all success in the discharge of your new responsibilities as the 45th President of the United States.”

As the de facto leader of her country’s government, she also said that she looked forward to “working closely with Your Excellency to further strengthen the existing friendship, cooperation and partnership between our two countries.”

In even more formal language, Htin Kyaw, Suu Kyi’s handpicked president, wrote: “Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

Trump, the Republican Party candidate, won the majority of Electoral College votes but fell short of his Democratic Party rival Hillary Clinton in popular votes to become the next US president on Tuesday (Wednesday in Burma).

A controversial figure who campaigned on a populist platform that often targeted immigrants and minorities for criticism, Trump has also found strong support among political leaders who share his authoritarian bent and staunchly nationalistic worldview.

Within Burma, his most enthusiastic backers include firebrand monk Wirathu, whose brand of Buddhist nationalism found common cause with Trump’s stance on Muslims, who the US leader-to-be has proposed banning from entering the United States.

“Bullet” Hla Shwe, a former MP with the the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), described Trump as the “American Ma Ba Tha“, referring to the anti-Muslim organisation led by Wirathu.

Hla Shwe, who is an often provocative critic of Suu Kyi’s ruling National League for Democracy, also said that Trump “is a nationalist so he will get along with the parties who prioritise nationalism,” including the USDP (whose leader, Than Htay, also sent a letter to Trump today).

In light of the latest flareup of violence in western Burma’s Arakan State, where Rohingya Muslim militants carried out a series of attacks on border police outposts on 9 October, killing nine, it also comes as little surprise that Trump’s victory has been welcomed with great satisfaction by the Arakan National Party (ANP).

In a letter to Trump, Aye Maung, the chairman of the party, which represents the state’s Arakanese Buddhist majority, congratulated the future US leader and drew attention to their shared views on security issues.

“Being engulfed in Islamization and illegal immigration problems, we the Arakanese people look up to you as a new world leader who will change the rigged system being infested with jihadi infiltrators.

“We all wish you two consecutive successful tenures and hope that your leadership will steer the US and the world into a safer place without radical Islamic terrorism,” wrote the ANP leader in a letter to Trump dated 9 November 2016.