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Senior Arakan National Party(ANP) members have broken ranks to speak out against their party’s claims it will undermine the government’s appointment of a chief minister.
In January, ANP officials spoke out against the NLD’s decision to install their own MPs as heads of the regional parliament, rather than jointly negotiate with the Arakanese party, stating they would “stand in opposition” if left out of the process.
The ANP is the result of a 2014 merger between two Arakanese political parties – the Rakhine National Development Party (RNDP), and the Arakan League for Democracy (ALP).
The ALP was first aligned with the 2015 election-winning National League for Democracy (NLD), with whom the ANP is at odds over the appointment of the influential chief minister role.
On Sunday, six members of the ANP central executive committee, all former members of ALP, told media they disagree with the formal stance of their party.
“We say that statement was invalid as it was released in the discretion of just some seven
individuals in the party,” said central executive member Myo Kyaw, adding that decision to obstruct the NLD in their regional appointment process did not act in the best interests of the Arakanese people who voted for them.
The ANP came close to winning a regional majority in the 2015 elections, picking up 23 of the 47 seats. The merger looked to be successful in the polls but publicly the party has struggled to remain unified.
On Monday, Khine Pray Soe, head of the party’s disciplinary committee announced the
formation of a 5 person team to investigate the comments made by the wayward members. Party leadership has summoned the 6 individuals to appear for questioning at party’s headquarters in Sittwe on 11 March, with the deadline to submit all findings by the following day.
Khin Saw Wai, a senior ANP figure, admitted there is a rift within the party along faction lines.
“In politics, we should agree to disagree. I admit there are disagreements between the [RNDP] and ALD factions in our party but they have the right to disagree. The ANP may also call a press conference if necessary in response to the [ALD faction’s press conference],” said Khin Saw Wai.
“As for us, we want to stand together as one party so to avoid one-sided views from the public,” she said.
Meanwhile the NLD is continuing with the appointment of cabinet positions and is looking to appoint its own MP and Arakan State chairman Nyi Pu as the chief minister in the state, according to NLD spokesperson Win Htein.
Khin Saw Wai warned that the ANP will stick by its decision to stand as the opposition party in the regional parliament if the NLD goes ahead and nominates Nyi Pu.
“We are not going to treat them like our enemy but what we are saying is that we will refuse to take part in the [NLD-led] government and instead focus on check and balance via the legislature,” she said.
On Monday, the party also announced departure from the ethnic party coalition United
Nationalities Alliance, instead joining the Nationalities Brotherhood Federation.