Since 2012, Arakan State has been a tinderbox of ethnic and religious tensions, with two bouts of violence in June and October of that year killing more than 100 people and displacing 140,000 others, most of them from the state’s Rohingya Muslim community. Several incidents in the years since indicate that communal relations between the state’s Arakanese Buddhists and the Rohingya minority will continue to prove a challenge to the region’s stability and development.
A worsening humanitarian situation for those displaced by the violence has prompted international outcry in recent years but is not likely to produce similar sentiment from candidates or voters, who largely view the Rohingya as illegal interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh. The Rohingya themselves have been denied citizenship and the right to vote in November, despite many tracing ancestry on Burmese soil back generations.
The deep-seated issues at play are a campaign inevitability in Arakan State, where the Arakan National Party (ANP) is expected to perform well against Burma’s two biggest parties, the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) and the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD), by playing to a strong strain of ethnic Arakanese nationalism.
Arakan State returns 17 lawmakers to the Union Parliament’s Lower House and 12 to the Upper House. The regional legislature is made up of 35 elected parliamentarians, including one ethnic affairs representative, and 12 appointed military MPs.
The Arakan National Party (ANP) was formed out of the merger of the Rakhine National Development Part and the Arakan League for Democracy. One of Burma’s strongest ethnic political parties, the ANP...
The National League for Democracy was born out of the political tumult of 1988, when a massive pro-democracy uprising rocked the nation and toppled the government of Gen. Ne Win. It subsequently...
The National Unity Party says its boasts a membership of about 500,000 and has offices in 306 of Burma’s 330 townships. The party is likely to be one of the most pervasive presences on the campaign...
The ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) was formed in 2010 to contest the general election that year as a political vehicle for many of Burma’s former military leaders. The party...