The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) on Thursday temporarily suspended Myanmar, with the EITI board expressing its “strong concern” about the safety of members of the multi-stakeholder group in the South-East Asian nation, as the security situation deteriorates after the military seized power a fortnight ago.

The board concluded it was not possible to envisage the EITI operating under the current circumstances because of the political instability and lack of essential freedoms.

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“Restoring effective multi-stakeholder oversight of the EITI process and an environment where civil society is able to participate in an open debate on matters relating to extractive sector governance should be a factor in any lifting of the suspension,” said EITI in a statement.

“The board will monitor and review the situation on a regular basis and consider if further action is necessary including the possibility of delisting.”

Protests in Myanmar

Meawhile, anti-military protesters in Myanmar on Thursday demonstrated outside offices of international oil and gas companies, as campaigners called on them to stop paying revenues to the junta that took power in the 1 February coup.

The Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA) said any payments made "would undermine the Myanmar people's efforts to return the country to democracy”.

It said they would instead "provide the Myanmar military the necessary resources to continue their violations of human rights in Myanmar,” reported AP.

MATA also appealed to players to have an exploration hiatus while the military government remains in power.

Some 200 protesters on Thursday gathered near Kanbauk, which is home to metering station facilities for the Total-operated Yadana pipeline that exports gas from the French major’s offshore field of the same name to neighbouring Thailand. They moved between operations and offices of Total, Petronas and PTTEP – all of which produce gas offshore Myanmar.

The demonstrators carried banners with slogans including ‘Your money is O2 for the military’ and ‘Stop working with Myanmar military’.

Workers at Total and state-owned Myanma Oil & Gas Enterprise have joined other professions to display their support for the restoration of the democratically elected civilian government.

None of the three mentioned overseas operators would comment on the political situation in Myanmar when earlier asked by Upstream. Production at Yadana, Petronas’ Yetagun and the PTTEP-helmed Zawtika offshore gas fields has continued during the post-coup days although non-essential company personnel are now mostly working from home.

MATA was established eight years ago amid heightened civil society activity around the EITI mechanism.

In October 2013, a core group of civil society actors collaboratively organised an EITI National Conference of civil society organisations.

These groups formed MATA – then named the Myanmar Coalition 4 Transparency; subsequently changed to reflect a focus on accountability issues.