National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi will meet this evening with senior members of the Arakan National Party (ANP) to try to resolve an ongoing dispute over the selection of the Arakan State chief minister.
The meeting comes a day after hundreds of protestors gathered in the state capital Sittwe to demand that the NLD respect the wishes of local people to choose a chief minister from the ranks of the ANP, which won 23 of 47 seats in the state legislature during last November’s elections.
Under Burma’s 2008 Constitution, the NLD’s president-elect Htin Kyaw has the right to nominate the leaders of the country’s states and divisions. According to NLD central executive committee member Win Htein, the party’s pick for Arakan State is Nyi Pu, one of only eight NLD lawmakers to win seats in the state parliament.
Although the ANP threatened in January to oppose the NLD if it insisted on ignoring the will of local voters, some party leaders are now striking a more conciliatory tone.
Speaking to DVB ahead of his meeting with Suu Kyi in Naypyidaw on Thursday, ANP legislator Pe Than said he thought the two parties could work together for the good of the state.
“The ANP is very much looking forward to working with the NLD, as we are aware that the challenges Arakan State is facing can only be resolved through cooperation,” said Pe Than, who represents the state’s Myebon Township in the lower house of Burma’s national parliament.
At the top of his list of problems facing the state, he said, was “the issue of Bengalis”–the Muslim minority known to most people outside of Burma as the Rohingya.
“The circumstances in the region are rather delicate for just one party to deal with,” he said.