On 6 March, the Union Election Commission announced that two Arakanese parties – the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP) and the Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) – had been dissolved and a new combined party had been approved registration: the Arakan National Party.
DVB interviewed Khine Pyi Soe, the secretary of the former RNDP on the structure, power-sharing agreement and political aims of the newly merged party.
Q: What is the executive structure of the new Arakan National Party?
A: I think the policies are more important than the structure of the party. Firstly, we drafted a constitution based on the policies of the ALD and RNDP.
The structure of the party is as before. We have four levels: Central Executive Committee, Central Committee, township-level committees and village and quarter-level committees. The village and quarter-level committees elect township committees, township-level committees elect the Central Committee and the Central Committee will elect the CEC.
We haven’t decided the number of chairpersons and secretaries yet. As of now, we have agreed to have a Central Executive Committee comprising 30 members; 15 each from either party. For the Central Committee, there will be 45 from each party. From those 90 members we have appointed 30 as a temporary CEC, meaning we will have a party conference within seven months at which we will make further steps. So, the current structure is temporary.
Q: How will you share leadership of the new party?
A: We are not using a power-sharing system. The leadership will be selected at the conference. Currently, we have chosen ALD’s U Aye Thar Aung as leader with U Aye Maung from RNDP as deputy-leader. Our next move is to elect a chairman and secretary from the 90 Central Committee members.
Q: What are the political aims of the party?
A: The main aim is federalism; another is toward democratization, and the third is development of Arakan State.
Q: Is the merger of the parties in preparation for 2015 elections?
A: It is not only about the 2015 elections. The merger of the RNDP and ALD is a response to the needs of the Arakan people. 2015 is just a timeframe. The people of Arakan State see that there should be unity among Arakanese people to solve the problems and conflicts in Arakan State. We are trying to fulfill the will of Arakanese people.
Q: What is your party policy toward the Rohingya/ Bengali community?
A: Our party policy is that we don’t accept the Bengalis nor do we recognise the name ‘Rohingya’. We support the 1980 and 1983 laws. This is in fact the policy of our RNDP. The ALD will also need to accept this policy because it is the will of all Arakanese people.