Rakhine ethnic party aims to rule troubled Myanmar state
A powerful ethnic party in Myanmar’s troubled western Rakhine state has threatened to boycott the new government unless election victor Aung San Suu Kyi appoints a local politician as chief minister.

Arakan National Party (ANP) chief Oo Hla Saw told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that they had been waiting to negotiate with the National League for Democracy (NLD), the Suu Kyi-led opposition party, since the official results of the November election were announced. "But no word from NLD yet,” he said by phone.

The ANP, which won the majority of seats in Rakhine, issued a statement Wednesday demanding that the NLD grant an exemption allowing the ethnic party to form its own government.

"Otherwise we won’t join any government organization, but will stand as an opposition party for the interests of Rakhine people,” ANP said in the statement.

Of the 48 seats in Rakhine’s regional parliament, the ANP won 23 seats and the NLD 13, while the military occupies 12 seats – or 25 percent – under the country’s constitution.

"The ANP won the majority in the state assembly. So, we deserve to govern our state,” Oo Hla Saw underlined.

After winning the Nov. 8 polls by a landslide, the NLD stated its intention to appoint its party members to the chief minister and top executive posts in regional governments as well as in the central government.

According to the military-drafted 2008 constitution, the president has the power to appoint chief ministers, who then appoint most cabinet positions, while the army chief has to assign three ministers in state governments.

The NLD nominated Wednesday an ethnic Rahkine lawmaker from the ANP and an ethnic Kachin from the incumbent military-backed ruling party as deputy speakers of the two houses of the national parliament, alongside two of its party members as their speakers.

A former chief minister of Rakhine stressed Thursday that negotiations between local politicians and the NLD are vital for stability in the troubled state, home to the majority of Rohingya Muslims – who are not officially recognized as an ethnicity – in Myanmar.

"The NLD and ANP need to find ways on how to govern the state so that they can keep stability in the state,” Maung Maung Ohne told Anadolu Agency.

"Many challenges are waiting for the new government and Rakhine state government. Human rights, national security, racial and religious issues and so on,” he added. "They need to be very fair. Otherwise it would be bad for Rakhine state as the area is like a time bomb.”
Rakhine has been hit by a series of sectarian disputes since 2012 that has left more than 100 people dead and over 100,000 displaced – mostly among the Rohingya – amid tensions between the minority and Rakhine Buddhists.

Analysts, however, consider the seeming antagonism to be state sanctioned, with the government dividing the communities to control the region’s economic output.

Last Modified: 2016-01-21 11:27:13
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