Five ethnic political parties in Arakan State on Monday formed an alliance in what they say is a bid for ethnic self-determination and inclusiveness in the ongoing peace process with a view to a future federal union in Burma.
The five – Arakan Patriot Party (APP); Mro National Democracy Party (MNDP); Daingnet National Development Party (DNDP); Khami National Development Party (KNDP); and Mro National Party (MNP) – formed the coalition at a meeting on 16 January at the APP’s headquarters in the state capital Sittwe.
Speaking to DVB on Tuesday, APP chairman Zaw Win Htun said, “Yesterday, we formed an alliance with fellow ethnic parties in Arakan State with the collective aim of achieving equality and self-determination in our region, as well as establishing a federal union. We also plan to lobby for an all-inclusive peace process with the government in a democratic environment.”
He said the alliance also aimed to seek amendments to the 2008 Constitution.
The MNDP’s chair Mya Htun said the various ethnic populations in Arakan State had fallen behind other regions in various sectors such as development, economy and education.
“We want to sit together with all ethnic groups in Arakan State to discuss the region’s economy, social issues, education and regional development, and work with the government to improve the situation,” he said.
The major political party in the western state, the Arakan National Party (ANP), said it welcomed the formation of an Arakan coalition.
“We think it is a good sign that Rakhine [Arakan] groups can work together. We welcome that,” the ANP’s general-secretary Tun Aung Kyaw told DVB.
The MNDP’s Mya Htun noted that there are currently eight political parties registered to represent indigenous ethnic groups in the state, and that the new alliance will enable the others to come together under the same umbrella.