5 February 2021, Sittwe
If the Tatmadaw government holds another round of elections as it has vowed to do, the Arakan State-based Arakan National Party (ANP) and Arakan Front Party (AFP) will contest the polls, according to officials from the parties.
U Pe Than, a member of the ANP’s Policy Affairs Steering Committee, said the ANP would contest the election if it is held, but that this would depend on an evolving political space.
“They [the Tatmadaw] said they will hold an election again throughout the country without accepting the election results of the November 8 election. As a political party, we will have to contest the election, but it is early to tell. And, we do not know what will happen in regard to the political situation. We will have to decide based on the political space,” he said.
U Pe Than added that the ANP would contest any future election with the intention of winning the opportunity for the party to speak as representative of the region, and to be able to extend its influence to the administrative sector.
In a message to Arakanese people on February 4, the ANP said it would work with the Tatmadaw government accordingly, in the best interests of Arakanese people.
U Kyaw Zaw Oo, a spokesperson for the AFP, said though there were many disputes in the current political crisis, his party must accept the situation as it is, given that the takeover by the military council meant, in practical terms, that the Tatmadaw was now wielding state power.
“It is far from certain whether elections will be held again or not. Voting was cancelled [last year] in major townships. So, elections should be held in all areas in the state,” he said. “Amid the dispute, we have to work at analysing the real situation, accepting the steps of the government with power on the ground. This does not mean we accept the military takeover. We have to liaise with them inevitably because they have become the government, with power in reality.”
U Than Htay, spokesperson for the Khami National Development Party, said his party will compete in the hypothetical election to be held by the Tatmadaw if its partner Arakan political parties will also contest.
“We formed the political party with the intention to represent and to stand for our people,” he said.
U Hla Myint, spokesperson for the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD), said the party has not yet decided whether to contest any election that might be held under the Tatmadaw government.
According to an announcement from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, a free and fair multi-party democracy election will be reheld in line with the 2008 Constitution, after activities are undertaken in accordance with the charter’s State of Emergency provisions.
Myanmar’s new military leadership has said it plans to hand over power to the winning party consistent with democracric standards, despite widespread popular and international outcry in the aftermath of its February 1 putsch.
In the November 8 election, voting was cancelled in Pauktaw, Ponnagyun, Rathedaung, Buthidaung, Maungdaw, Kyauktaw, Minbya, Myebon and Mrauk-U townships of Arakan State, and the election was only partially held in Sittwe, Ann, Taungup and Kyaukphyu townships.