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ETHNIC ISSUES

Arakan National Party Eyes 63 Seats in General Election

The Arakan National Party plans to contest 63 constituencies in Burma’s historic Nov. 8 general election, party patron Aye Thar Aung tells The Irrawaddy.


RANGOON — The Arakan National Party (ANP) plans to contest 63 constituencies in Burma’s Nov. 8 general election, party patron Aye Thar Aung told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday.

The senior party leader said the ANP will compete for all 34 elected seats in the regional Arakan State legislature, as well as making bids for 17 seats in the Union Parliament’s Lower House and 12 seats in the Upper House.

Members of the ANP have gathered this week for a four-day meeting of the party’s central committee in Sittwe, the Arakan State capital. Establishing an election campaign team and financing committee, as well as approving a list of party candidates for the general election, are on the agenda for this week’s meeting, which will wrap up on Thursday.

“Maungdaw and Buthitaung townships delayed in submitting [candidate lists for] the constituencies, but I think that will be fine,” Aye Thar Aung said.

The ANP’s Maungdaw chapter president, Khin Maung Than, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that local party officials had submitted their list to the central committee and aimed to contest four constituencies in the northern Arakan State township.

The plan to contest 63 seats between the two levels of government represents a scaling up of ambitions for a major Arakanese political party.

The Rakhine National Development Party (RNDP), which merged with another Arakanese party to form the ANP last year, contested 44 seats and won 35 in Burma’s last general election, in 2010. It won seven seats in the Upper House and nine seats in the Lower House, with the remainder of seats won in the regional parliament. It garnered 4.17 percent of seats in the Upper House, making it the second largest bloc in that chamber at the time, after the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).

In January 2014, the RNDP and Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) joined forces to form the ANP. The ALD had sat out the 2010 poll.

The merger stands in contrast to the political dynamics in most of Burma’s ethnic minority states, where typically at least two parties will vie for the loyalties of ethnic constituencies, while also competing with the ruling USDP and Burma’s largest opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).