(Opinion) Will NLD Government and Tatmadaw Force to Dissolve ANP or Co opt from National Election in 2020

Arakan National Party campaign in 2015 national election

Sittway. My 12, 2020
Sequence of systematic crackdowns, intimidations, harassments, arrests, and draconian law suits  over the members of Arakan National Party (ANP) is raised higher concern among the people and leaders whether NLD government and Tatmadaw are co opting to either dissolve the party or marginalize it from 2020 national election. 
ANP won majority parliamentary seats in Rakhine State and third largest seats in the national parliament in 2015 election. But the party was not allowed to form the state government. Instead, NLD picked its member for the state chief minister and formed the local government without people support. 

After Arakan Army has been emerging armed struggle for greater autonomy since 2018 and Tatmadaw is responding with aggressive counter military offensives and targeting civilians, the conflict in Rakhine state is widen to political confrontation. 

DR. Aye Maung, popular and one of the key political figures as well as main critic of NLD government, was charged with high treason and sentenced for lengthy imprisonment for his political speech that Myanmar government viewed motivating nationalism. 

For worse, NLD government is overtly relax. But it is covertly allowing police and courts to arrest and charge ANP members with unlawful association acts and terrorist laws. 

Tatmadaw prosecuted a lawmaker from Buthedaung township in March for his media interview and telling the shells fired from the Tatmadaw landed in a village and injured civilians. The charges are still pending. 

Tatmadaw ran TV Myawaddy publically denounced and threatened Rakhine lawmakers of ANP, who provided evidences and witness accounts of Kyauk Seik incident to media, where 8 villagers were skilled and 14 civilians injured in April.

In May first week, police arrested and charged some ANP members in Tungup township with unlawful association acts. They were released by the court but immediately recharged with terrorist laws in this week.

Police arrested ANP’s chairman of Toungup township and sympathizers of the township municipal chairman and former chairman. They are charged with terrorist laws on May 11. 

These arrests and charges made on the ANP members after there were news came out of Toungup that AA members treated NLD members in the township. 

There are also a number of untold cases of harassing ANP members in Kyuakphu and Ann townships as well. 

All of these harassments and intimidations over the ANP members are indicting National Election Commission may take further severe actions against the party including disqualification of election and outlawing it.

NLD perceives ANP is as a great threat in 2020 election in Rakhine State. Tatmadaw on its military point of view feels ANP is enemy's friend.  

Both the NLD government and Tatmadaw are in the same page of domination and subversion of central power, and ANP in their eyes is dragging leg. Without the ANP they think is unchallenged power in Rakhine. 

Analysts are concerned draconian laws against the civilians and the legally registered political party is only pushing the people more supports of AA. Furthermore, it is gravitating toward full civil war and dangerous. 

Historically, Rakhine people are politically mature and actively participated in elections in the past and at the present times, and this kind of non-violent political motivation should be encouraged. 

History speaks. 

During the newly independent nation and parliamentary democracy era in 1950s, Rakhine ethnic people voted for their national party instead of the mainland based central Burman dominated party. Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) led by U Nu competed against Independent Arakanese Parliamentary Group (AIGP) and later emerged to Arakan National United Organization (ANUO) in 1951 election. But the result was fatally suffering to the AFPLF. 

But after AFPLF refused to give statehood and Rakhine leaders actively taking parts with Shan and Mon for greater autonomy movements for numbers of reasons and facts they joined hands with the ethic people and unitedly calling for federation, General Ne Win responded it with the military coup in 1962. 

After General Ne Win took over the power and restored one party system under Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) in 1960s and approved Arakan Division to the statehood, Arakan people were calm and participating in single party elections. 

At this the current democracy transition struggle, people still vote for the national party, and it is history fact that they want home rule.

Both Tatmadaw and NLD should consider another alternative for dialogue and peaceful solution on Rakhine conflicts instead of marginalization of ANP and harsh oppression on the people. 

Myanmar cannot afford another full civil war while facing international pressure, ICJ law suit, and incoming war crimes law suits. 

Might is not answer for Rakhine conflict but wise and brave heart will reconcile between politically distancing people. 


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