Min Tun | DMG
26 January 2021, Sittwe 

A National League for Democracy (NLD) delegation that has been holding discussions with ethnic political parties has not officially offered talks with the Arakan National Party (ANP), according to officials from the latter. 

The ANP anticipates holding a dialogue with the NLD despite the fact that the ruling party has yet to formally propose talks, said ANP policy leadership committee member U Pe Than, who is also a Lower House MP. 

“We expect to hold talks, but the NLD has not yet offered talks,” said U Pe Than, adding that if the ANP is not included in the government, “what we can do best is to use the strength of the parliament formed with elected lawmakers, and exercise checks and balances on the government.”  

Since its second consecutive landslide election victory in November, the NLD has been sending a delegation to ethnic states to hold talks on forming a national unity government with ethnic political parties, as a step toward establishing a federal Union. 

Led by Magwe Region Chief Minister Dr. Aung Moe Nyo, the NLD delegation includes Kayin State Chief Minister Daw Nang Khin Htwe Myint, who is also a member of the party’s Ethnic Affairs Committee, and Ntung Hka Naw Sam, the chair of the committee. The delegation has so far held talks with ethnic political parties in Kachin and Shan states. 

When asked whether the NLD plans to hold talks with the ANP, which won a majority in Arakan State in the November general election, NLD spokesman Dr. Myo Nyunt said: “It will be decided by party Vice Chair Dr. Zaw Myint Maung and the NLD delegation. The decision-making power is vested in them. It is up to them.” 

Balloting in Arakan State was cancelled entirely in nine townships, as well as several wards and villages in four other townships, ahead of the November 8 election. As the incoming Pyindaungsu Hluttaw (Union Parliament) is set to convene on February 1, elections still have not been held in the constituencies where voting was nixed. 

In the incoming Arakan State Hluttaw, the ANP holds seven seats; the NLD holds five seats, including the Chin ethnic affairs minister position; the Arakan Front Party holds two seats; the Myanmar military’s proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party holds one seat; and the military itself holds five unelected seats guaranteed by the Constitution. 

If the NLD’s political will is for the betterment of Arakan State, it should engage in dialogue with Arakanese political parties, said U Pe Than. It is a must for the NLD to cooperate with the ANP because the ruling party alone will not be able to bring stability to Arakan otherwise, he warned. 

“If the NLD does not hold talks with the ANP on challenges and the peace process in Arakan State, it will be difficult to handle those issues. If it tries for stability in Arakan in consultation with the ANP, the biggest party in Arakan, we will be able to achieve peace and development in Arakan State, which is our expectation,” said the lawmaker. 

The Arakan State Hluttaw is set to convene on February 9, at which time the parliamentary speaker and deputy speaker will be elected.

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