SITTWE—The Arakan National Party (ANP), a major political party in Rakhine State, will elect a new chairperson at the second party conference to be held on Thursday and Friday, according to vice-chairperson of the party U Khine Pyi Soe.
“There is no eligibility criteria for the position of chairperson. The conference will elect 63 central committee members, and 25 of them will be elected to the central executive committee and among them, the chairperson and secretaries will be elected,” he told The Irrawaddy.
The party has made a decision about U Aye Maung, who submitted his resignation as the party chairperson in November 2017 according to the electoral law.
“According to the electoral law, a person serving a prison term can’t join a political party, and we have made our decision according to that law,” he said.
U Aye Maung cited mounting internal discord when he submitted his resignation letter to the party’s central executive committee.
After filing for resignation, he, along with author Wai Hin Aung, was prosecuted for high treason and given a 20-year sentence in March 2018. The two were arrested for their public remarks at an event in Rathedaung Township in January 2018 commemorating the anniversary of the fall of the Arakan Kingdom to the Burmese in 1785.
ANP lawmaker U Pe Than representing Myebon Township in the Lower House of the Union Parliament told The Irrawaddy that the party chair would be elected from middle-aged party members.
“We will give priority to middle-aged party members—those over 50—in considering the chairperson and secretary positions. And we will elect young party members to the central committee,” said the lawmaker.
The party conference will also form a new seven-member body called the policy-leading committee, said U Khine Pyi Soe.
“That committee will be higher than the central committee. As soon as the party conference concludes, the seven-member body will be the highest authority of the party,” he told The Irrawaddy.
The party will not accept resignations recently filed by some ANP lawmakers, he added.
“They contested the election representing this party. They were chosen under the ANP name, so we will not accept their resignation. [Their party membership] will end automatically only after an election term ends,” he said.
Upper House lawmaker U Wai Sein Aung of Sittwe, Lower House lawmaker U Aung Thaung Shwe of Buthidaung, and Rakhine state lawmakers U Kyaw Zaw Oo of Sittwe and U Kyaw Lwin of Kyaukphyu have officially tendered their resignation to the party.
“I’ve resigned whether they allow it or not. There is no party policy that says once a member, always a member. As I’ve resigned, I am no longer interested in whether they allow it or not,” Lower House lawmaker U Aung Thaung Shwe told The Irrawaddy.
The ANP’s conference is held every five years with the first held in 2014 in Thandwe Township, southern Rakhine State.
At the 2014 conference, the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party and the Arakan League for Democracy merged to form the ANP with 111 central committee members. The number will be reduced to 63 at the second conference.
“At the first conference there were disagreements, disputes and rigging as two parties merged. But now we are in the same party, and the second conference will therefore be different and put right [members] in the right places,” said U Pe Than.