Still awaiting official permission from the government, Rakhine State political parties and civil society groups are hedging their bets and already taking steps to prepare for a national-level political dialogue.
At a meeting in the state capital on February 15, a committee to plan and implement the dialogue was formed. Government representatives, members of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) – the political wing of the Arakan Liberation Army – and the Arakan National Party attended, along with delegates from state-based civil society organisations.
“The committee is comprised of members of the Arakan National Party, the Arakan Liberation Party and eight civil society organizations. It has 21 members as well as a supervisory committee. This supervisory committee has three members from the ANP, including vice chair Khaing Pyae Soe, two members of the ALP, including central executive committee member Daw Saw Mra Raza Linn, and two members from CSOs, including me,” said Daw Nyo Aye, chair of the Arakan Women’s Network.
Following the meeting, the committee released a statement about its formation and its intention to lay the groundwork for a successful national-level dialogue in Rakhine State.
According to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement, all signatory groups can hold a national-level consultation, which is intended to gauge public interest and input ahead of Union-level meetings. However, earlier this month the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) – the tripartite body that oversees the national-level dialogues – announced that the Chin and Rakhine state dialogues would need to be delayed due to political and geographic concerns. The decision was swiftly backtracked in the case of Chin State, but no reversal has been announced in the case of Rakhine.
National-level dialogues have successfully taken place in Kayin State and Tanintharyi Region. The UPJDC has also approved political dialogues in Bago Region and Shan State, according to a February 14 statement.
Translated by Aong Jaeneh
Edited by by Laignee Barron for BNI