Faction ‘Annihilated’ in ANP Leadership Purge

By Moe Myint 14 March 2016

RANGOON — Six prominent members of the former Arakan League for Democracy (ALD), which merged with the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) two years ago to form the Arakan National Party (ANP), were removed from their ANP leadership posts on Sunday, following a two-day meeting in Ponnagyun Township’s Pannila village, in northern Arakan State.

Internal frictions intensified earlier this month when the six central executive committee (CEC) members of the ANP held a press conference to voice dissatisfaction with the party’s direction. These six members were subsequently deemed to have intentionally undermined ANP rules and regulations.

Myo Kyaw, one of the dissenters, confirmed on Monday that the RNDP faction of the party had dismissed the six CEC members, who were not invited to the meeting, describing the decision as an “injustice.”

Phoe Minn, the ANP’s vice chairperson and member of a team formed to investigate the CEC members, told The Irrawaddy that the party has already sent an official letter to the Union Election Commission (UEC) to explain the situation.

He acknowledged that no former ALD members were present at the meeting, but said a majority of the more than 40 central committee members in attendance agreed to the dismissal.

The ANP secured 44 out of the 77 seats it contested in the November election and demanded that the National League for Democracy (NLD) appoint as state chief minister an ANP member, threatening to otherwise rule out collaboration with the NLD.

Myo Kyaw said that “without ALD members in the party [ANP], only RNDP members would be left in the ANP.”

An Upper House lawmaker for the ANP, Htoot May, echoed these sentiments, saying the “[ANP authorities] shouldn’t fire [members] recklessly. Removing all [ALD faction] party members is inappropriate and could very well harm Arakanese interests.”

Except for Aye Tha Aung, who currently serves as the deputy speaker of Parliament’s Upper House, all CEC members from the ANP who were formerly affiliated with the ALD have been dismissed.

On the internal crisis, Myo Kyaw said: “I’ve heard they completely annihilated [the ALD].”

He added that six ANP cofounders are discussing whether, going forward, the party’s existence will be in accordance with existing laws. A UEC official, however, has supposedly stated that the commission would not interfere in the party’s internal affairs.

Neither the UEC nor Aye Tha Aung could be reached for comment on Monday.

The merging of the RNDP and ALD in 2014 into the ANP was to stave off vote-splitting as the two parties looked ahead to the 2015 election. Though the move paid off at the polls, recently, the ANP has been beleaguered by internal disputes.