Two defections this week by sitting lawmakers formerly pledging fealty to the Arakan National Party (ANP) have made clear that divisions within one of Burma’s most formidable ethnic political parties continue to fester.
Than Maung Oo and Khin Maung Htay, both Arakan State MPs, tendered their resignations as the party — formed out of a merger of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) and the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) — looks increasingly riven since the two sides officially joined forces in 2014.
Than Maung Oo, who represents part of Ramree Township, was also a member of the ANP’s central committee, as was Khin Maung Htay. The Ramree MP affirmed that he had resigned from the ANP of his own accord on Tuesday, citing issues related to the split within the party.
“The ANP was formed as a merger between the two political parties, acting on the desire of the people. … The two parties have different paths,” he said. “Cooperation is difficult when they [the RNDP and ALD factions] have differences in terms of direction.”
Khin Maung Htay, an Arakan State MP representing constituents in Ann Township, also announced his resignation from the ANP, on Monday.
The ANP won 23 seats in the state assembly in the November 2015 general election, a strong showing that put the party just shy of a majority when unelected military MPs are taken into account. But the heady days of electoral triumph have since given way to intra-party differences that led some to re-establish the ALD, which competed in Burma’s 1990 election — the results of which were not recognised by the ruling junta of the time.
The ALD did not participate in the country’s much-criticised 2010 general election, with the RNDP instead stepping in to garner much of the Arakanese ethnic vote.
Htu May, an Upper House lawmaker formerly representing the ANP, resigned from the party in July, citing “differences of opinion over party policies and other disagreements.”