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Almost 1,000 members of the Arakan National Party (ANP) have threatened to quit the party over the dismissal of three senior members in Kyauktaw.
Two months ago, Kyauktaw Township Chairman Saw Maung, Deputy-chair Saw Shwe Tun and Secretary Zaw Win were sacked from the ANP on allegations that they formed a committee at their own discretion without the permission of the central leadership.
Ngwe Thein, an ANP official in Kyauktaw, told DVB on Thursday that 953 party members signed a letter, threatening to leave the party if the three former executive members were not reinstated. He said the letter was sent to the party leadership on 6 June.
In April, six township party executives quit in protest against the dismissal: Htun Hla; Tun Tun Aung; Tin Htun Aung; Zaw Win Maung; Maung Maw Sein; and Hla Saw Maung.
“The party leadership dismissed three Central Executive Committee members from Kyauktaw, but we are urging them to reconsider this decision,” said Ngwe Thein. “Six other executives subsequently left their posts in protest, and now we have no one left to serve in a leadership role in Kyauktaw. If the three dismissed leaders are not readmitted, then all 953 party members in Kyauktaw will resign.”
However, ANP Secretary Tun Aung Kyaw told DVB that the removal of the three Kyauktaw leaders was done in accordance with party regulations, and that they would not be reinstated.
“The three were dismissed from their posts as a disciplinary measure in accordance with the party’s regulations,” he said. “We are an institutionalised major party and our disciplinary committee decided to remove the three for violating party protocol. As a political party, we find it unacceptable that they are trying to blackmail us like this.
“There is no way we will consider their demands,” he added.
In the 2015 general election, the party won 10 seats in the Lower House, 12 in the Upper House, and 22 of the 47 seats in the regional assembly of Arakan, also known as Rakhine.
But persistent reports indicate that old loyalties continue to divide the party. “The RNDP faction was always dominant in the new party, wrote journalist Min Min in Frontier Myanmar in April. “Before the [September 2014 congress] began, there were murmurs that ANP chairman and former RNDP chair Dr Aye Maung was plotting a manoeuvre to ensure that the RNDP faction dominated the party. Former ALD members were incensed.”