The Arakan Front Party (AFP) re-registered with the Union Election Commission (UEC) on Feb. 28, the Global New Light of Myanmar (GNLM) reported. The AFP is led by Aye Maung, a Rakhine nationalist politician who was sentenced to 20 years in prison – convicted of high treason in 2019. He was released in an amnesty following the 2021 military coup and awarded the nation’s highest honor “Thiri Pyanchi” in 2022 by the regime. His AFP has become the first political party in Rakhine State to express its desire to compete in the junta’s planned election, set for later this year or 2024. Aye Maung did not respond to DVB interview requests.
Min Aung Hlaing amended Burma’s Political Parties Registration Law on Jan. 26 to require all political parties to have at least 100,000 members. It also states that the parties need to have at least K100 million ($47,564 USD) deposited at the Myanma Economic Bank (MEB) to be able to compete nationwide. Thirteen political parties have so far registered, states GNLM. Five of these registered parties will compete nationwide and the remaining eight will compete at a state or regional level. The Arakan National Party (ANP) – Rakhine state’s largest – urged its committee members to decide before Feb. 28. The Arakan League for Democracy (ALD) decided not to re-register at its central executive meeting on Feb. 25. The Arakan Army (AA) said at a press conference on Feb. 27 that an election would not solve the problems faced by the Rakhine people.
The regime intends to replace the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system with a Proportional Representation (PR) system which would allow smaller political parties to gain seats in parliament based on nationwide vote tallies. This could ultimately lead to coalition governments rather than having one party win in a landslide, as the National League for Democracy (NLD) party has done in the 2015 and 2020 elections. Experts believe a PR system would end the reign the dominant political party – as the NLD has been since 1990 – and allow several pro-military parties to work together in government. Along with the AFP, a total of 12 political parties, including the military-proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), the National Unity Party (NUP) and the Federal Democratic Party have re-registered with the UEC, the regime announced on Feb. 27.