Arakan National Party says one of its MPs should be Rakhine’s next chief minister 

The Arakan National Party (ANP) has said one of its MPs should be Rakhine’s next chief minister because the party won the most seats in the State Hluttaw in last year’s election.

The call came after the vice chair of the National League for Democracy (NLD), Dr Zaw Myint Maung, said last week that it was unlikely the next president would appoint anybody from outside the NLD to be a chief minister.

The vice chair said the party was acting in accordance with the constitution by doing so and that it had a right to because it won a landslide victory in November. 

But Rakhine was one of the few areas where voters resoundingly rejected the NLD in favour of local ethnic parties. Aye Nu Sein, an ANP spokesperson, said that the constitution allowed the president to appoint an MP from any party to be chief minister. 

“Just because an MP has to be appointed, that does not mean you have to give it to someone from your own party,” she told Myanmar Now.

Section 261b of the charter says the president must select a suitable and qualified MP from the local Hluttaw to be chief minister in that state or region. The chief minister then forms the local government. 

Giving the post to the ANP would meet democratic standards and show respect for the desires of the majority of the Rakhine people, Aye Nu Sein said.   

The ANP won seven seats in the State Hluttaw in November, while the NLD only won five. The ANP would likely have won more but voting was cancelled in large areas of the state because of fighting between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army. 

Shortly after the election the NLD invited the ANP and dozens of other ethnic parties to join talks on forming a “national unity government”.  It has met with parties in Shan and Kachin states but has not yet held talks with the ANP.

The ANP is ready for talks, Aye Nu Sein said, and is preparing to shift its focus to forming a state government.

The Arakan Front Party (AFP), which won two State Hluttaw seats last year, said it does not accept the NLD government’s policy of appointing its own party members to be chief ministers in ethnic areas.

Kyaw Zaw Oo, the AFP’s vice chair, said that although the constitution allows the president to directly appoint the chief minister, the NLD should allow Hluttaws to elect chief ministers from among their own MPs.

“If they did, it would show the NLD government wants a genuine federal union,” he told Myanmar Now. “The current civil war in the country means that there can be no real federal union, and there is a civil war because ethnic people are denied their basic rights.”

In 2015, the ANP also asked to be allowed to form a state government after winning the most seats but the request was not granted. 

The NLD-led local government and the ANP-led Hluttaw have clashed frequently, most notably when the Hluttaw impeached the NLD’s local Minister of Municipal Affairs, Min Aung, in 2018 after accusing him of failing to consult officials about the state budget. 

Rakhine’s Hluttaw will convene on February 9 with 15 elected MPs and five military MPs. 

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