Two Rakhine political parties are trying to hammer out an agenda for a national-level political dialogue, though they have not yet received official permission to hold a consultation in Rakhine State.
The Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), the political wing of the Arakan Liberation Army, and the Arakan National Party (ANP) met on February 14 in Rakhine State’s capital Sittwe to discuss preparations for the political dialogue.
The national-level political dialogues are enshrined in the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. As outlined in the NCA, all signatory groups can stage a national-level dialogue, which involve public consultations and discussions centered around region, topic or ethnicity. The dialogues aim to gather input and recommendations for the Union-level peace conferences. The Arakan Liberation Army was one of eight signatory groups to sign the the NCA in 2015 under then-president U Thein Sein’s administration.
However, earlier this month, the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) - a tripartite committee that oversees the dialogues - decided to put the Rakhine and Chin talks on hold. Bowing to public and ethnic armed group pressure, the decision was reversed in the case of the Chin National Front. The Chin dialogue is expected to get underway later this month. The ALP has submitted a request to go forward with its own dialogue.
The February 14 meeting to talk preparations for the hoped-for national-level dialogue was led by Daw Saw Mra Raza Linn, ALP’s central executive committee member, and by ANP’s vice chair U Khine Pyae Soe.
“We mainly discussed how we, the ALP and the ANP, can lead a national-level talk and form an organizing committee for the talk,” said Daw Saw Mra Raza Linn, who is also a deputy leader of the UPDJC.
She told Narinjara News that if the Rakhine State national-level dialogue is given the green light, then nearly 500 representatives would be invited to take part, including members of political parties, civil society organizations and residents from across the state.
“The ALP will discuss the policy for establishing a federal system. That is what we want to hear from the public about before we present plans that our party has discussed. We also want to consult the public about economics, society, education and security,” said Daw Saw Mra Raza Linn, adding that the ALP wants to hold the talk for the benefit of the Rakhine people.
Although Narinjara tried to contact ANP vice chair U Khine Pyae Soe regarding the meeting, the calls went unanswered.
National-level political dialogues have so far been held in Kayin State, Tanintharyi Region and Bago Region.
Translated by Aong Jaeneh
Edited by by Laignee Barron for BNI