ANP chair says party may end its association with junta

One of the few political parties in Myanmar to recognize the regime that was formed after the February 1 coup says it is now reconsidering its association with the ruling military council.

The Arakan National Party (ANP) no longer believes that working with the junta serves the interests of the Rakhine people, its chair, Tha Tun Hla, told Myanmar Now on Tuesday.

At issue, he said, is the failure of the regime, which calls itself the State Administration Council (SAC), to grant the ANP greater authority in handling Rakhine State affairs.

“Our demands were not met. We don’t think associating with them will be in the interests of Rakhine State or its people. So members of our central executive committee have expressed a desire to end our association with the military council,” he said.

One of the party’s senior leaders, policy board member Aye Nu Sein, joined the SAC on February 3, a day after the new ruling council was formed in the wake of the military takeover.

The ANP held a central committee meeting later that month and decided to call on the regime to grant the party a leadership role in the state-level administrative council.

However, the SAC has yet to respond to that demand, said Tha Tun Hla, speaking after a central executive committee meeting held at the party’s headquarters in Sittwe on Tuesday.

He said that the party’s leadership is now discussing whether it should cut ties with the junta and is planning to meet again to make a decision on the matter.

While the ANP chair was among those who expressed dissatisfaction with the party’s relationship with the SAC, others were more reluctant to suggest it was time to part ways.

ANP spokesperson Pe Than said the party’s stance after the February meeting was simply to wait and see how the junta responded to its request for a more prominent role at the state level. It was not decided at the time that the issue would determine the course of future relations, he added.

He declined to comment further on what decision the party might make when it meets again.

The ANP was heavily criticized by the public and Rakhine civil society groups after one of its most prominent members accepted a position on the SAC.

Days after Aye Nu Sein joined the junta, 47 Rakhine-based civil society organisations released a joint statement urging the ANP to distance itself from Myanmar’s military.

The statement said that no political party, organisation or individual should be involved with or support an illegitimate administration formed against the people’s will.

As party chair, Tha Tun Hla sought to distance the ANP from Aye Nu Sein’s “personal” involvement with the SAC.

“The offer was made to her through an individual who is familiar with the military. The military didn’t make the offer to our party,” he said.

However, he added, the ANP considered the offer a chance for Aye Nu Sein and the party to work for the interests of Rakhine people.

Aye Nu Sein could not be reached for comment.

Days before the military seized power from the elected National League of Democracy (NLD) government, the ANP said one of its MPs should be appointed as Rakhine’s chief minister as it won the most seats in the state parliament in last year’s election.

However, the NLD’s vice-chair, Zaw Myint Maung, said it was unlikely that the president nominated by the NLD would appoint anybody from outside the party to be a chief minister. 


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