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NLD insists it will choose Rakhine State chief minister

Campaign posters hang outside the headquarters of the Arakan National Party in Sittwe, Rakhine state during last year November elections. The posters read: “Love your nationality and vote for the Arakan National Party.” (Photo by Michael Sainsbury via

January 25, 2016

The National League for Democracy insists it will appoint the chief minister and government for Rakhine despite protests by the Arakan National Party which won a majority of the state’s elected seats in last November’s elections.

However the NLD will consult with all “ethnic” parties and will not discriminate against any of them, NLD central committee member U Nyi Pu said, noting that this policy of exercising the president’s right to appoint chief ministers extended to all of Myanmar’s 14 states and regions.

The ANP, which largely defends the interests of the state’s Rakhine Buddhist majority, says it should be given the right to form the state government. On January 19 it warned that it was ready to position itself in opposition “for the interests of the Arakan people”.

Rakhine was the only state or region where the NLD was beaten into second place in the general elections. But because of the 25 percent of seats allocated to the military, the ANP fell just short of winning an overall majority in the state government.

The ANP’s success at the polls was due in part to the decision by the military-backed government to strip holders of temporary “white card” ID papers of their right to vote. This mostly affected ethnic Muslims who make up a large minority in the state.

Under the constitution, which ethnic parties have contested, the president appoints chief ministers who then select cabinet members, except for those under the direct control of the military.

ANP secretary U Tun Aung Kyaw said that if the NLD wanted national reconciliation then it should negotiate over forming a government, noting that the party of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi had committed itself to a genuine federal union and equality of peoples.

“We want to serve in office because the Rakhine people gave us the mandate. Therefore we demand to lead the formation of the state government,” he toldThe Myanmar Times.

In a recent visit to the state capital Sittwe, U Nyi Pu came under pressure from residents and civil society organisations to give the mandate to the ANP.

U Tun Aung Kyaw clarified that the party would act as a legitimate opposition rather than seeking to “boycott” the political process. In more conciliatory comments, he said the ANP would accept a government formed by the NLD if it did a good job developing the state.

NLD spokesperson U Win Htein said the NLD would meet with all ethnic parties at some point but at the moment it was too busy and had not fixed a schedule of meetings.

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