Two members of Rakhine State Parliament who represent the Arakan National Party (ANP) requested resignation from the party this week.
U Than Maung Oo, a state lawmaker representing Ramree Township Constituency No. 2, submitted his resignation letter on Oct. 3. A day earlier, U Khin Maung Htay, a lawmaker representing Ann Township Constituency No. 2, submitted his resignation.
Three lawmakers have requested to leave the ANP this year, within a three month period. Upper house lawmaker Daw Htoot May sent her resignation letter to the ANP in late July to rejoin the newly re-registered Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) party.
The ANP was formed in June 2013 with the merger of two Rakhine political parties, the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) and the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD), to consolidate votes in the 2015 general election. The latter formed for the 1990 election and the former was established in 2010 and has contested in the elections since then.
Due to the friction within the ANP, the ALD decided to re-establish its party early this year.
In their resignation letters, U Than Maung Oo, 57, and U Khin Maung Htay, 33, said they resigned as members and central committee leaders of the ANP.
Regarding his decision, U Than Maung Oo told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that even though they had merged the parties, the two party’s political aims were opposing and they “could no longer work together.” He was one of the people who had initiated the party merger in 2013.
U Khin Maung Htay did not comment on his resignation.
ANP vice chairman U Khine Pyay Soe said the decision on the resignation letters would have to wait until the central committee leaders meeting, which will be held next week, either on Oct. 13 or Oct. 14.
“As the central committee leaders are selected through the ANP’s congress, the decision to approve the resignation letters will have to come from the central committee meeting,” explained U Khine Pyay Soe.
The ANP is the third largest party in the country and it won 45 out of 1150 seats in November 2015, following the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party and the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
It contested 63 seats in Rakhine and Chin states, and Irrawaddy and Yangon regions; and won 10 seats in the Upper House, 12 in the Lower House, 22 in Rakhine State Parliament and one seat for the Rakhine ethnic affairs minister post in Yangon.
Despite its majority win in the state Parliament, the party did not get to lead the state government, as the heads [chief ministers] of the state and regional governments were appointed by the president, according to the military-drafted 2008 Constitution.
The ANP strictly imposed that its members abide by its regulations and those who did not follow party rules were expelled. There have been about seven ANP members, (who were strong ALD members) expelled from the party for “violations of party regulations” since 2016, according to U Tun Aung Kyaw, a general secretary of the ANP.
U Kyaw Lwin, the Rakhine State minister for agriculture, livestock, mining and forestry, and U Mya Than, the deputy state speaker, were among those expelled for collaborating with the National League for Democracy in the formation of the state cabinet and Parliament – as the ANP had a policy that it would not collaborate with the NLD.
U Aung Mya Kyaw, a secretary of the ANP, told The Irrawaddy, “These latest two resignation letters will be the last to resign from the party, as those who wanted to leave the ANP were all strong ALD members.”
But none of the three have officially left the ANP yet, he said, as they will have to deal with any issues related to them with the party before their resignations are accepted.
“For instance, Ma Htoot May sent her resignation months ago, but she is still on the party list and she can leave only when she has dealt with the issues she needs to,” said U Aung Mya Kyaw.
Chit Min Tun contributed to this report.