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Representatives from various Arakanese organisations have announced they will hold the 4th Arakan National Convention in the Arakan State town of Kyaukphyu from 27 April to 1 May as they strive to find answers to the ongoing conflict in the region.
Speaking at a press conference at the end of the meeting in Chiang Mai on Monday, Thar Ban, the chairman of the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD), said that the upcoming summit would focus on three objectives.
“We aim to finalise discussions from our previous talks regarding three objectives: to promote solidarity among the Arakanese people; to bring about ethnic equality and justice; and build a secure, peaceful and progressive Arakanese society,” said Thar Ban.
The secretary of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP), Oo Hla Saw, said: “Our people are facing challenges like no other region in the country, and we won’t be able to solve these issues through one party or an individual. That’s why we have decided to hold a conference, together with resistance groups, democratic parties, intellectuals and historians. In that way, we can work out a strategy.”
He said the ongoing communal violence between Arakanese Buddhists and the Muslim Rohingya community would not prevent the convention from going ahead, and neither would the recent incident where two Arakanese political leaders – RNDP’s Aye Maung and ALD’s Aye Thar Aung – were targeted in a failed assassination attempt in Malaysia last week.
Meanwhile, the question remains whether armed Arakanese groups that are yet to sign a ceasefire agreement with the government will be invited to the conference.
Speaking to DVB, Lt-Col Kyaw Han of the Arakan Army said, “The meeting aims to resolve issues on how Arakanese people can cooperate and live together. If we, the Arakan Army, and other armed organisations are not allowed to join in the discussions, then the conference will be meaningless.”
A committee has been formed to organise the 4th Arakanese National Convention. It will comprise: ALD Chairman Thar Ban; RNDP President and Rangoon Division Arakanese Affairs Minister Zaw Aye Maung; Arakan Liberation Party Secretary Khine Thukha; and Arakan Army’s Kyaw Han.
The committee is scheduled to meet in the near future with a Burmese government delegation headed by Minister Aung Min at the Myanmar Peace Centre in Rangoon to discuss details for the April convention.