(Lunn Mrat, Narinjara News, 15 October 2014):
Burma President U Thein Sein recently disclosed during his radio speech to the nation that the forthcoming 2015 general election might not be possible on time if the ongoing peace process was not accomplished. However, senior Arakanese politician Dr Aye Maung pointed out that the general election and the peace process are not dependant on each other.
The Arakan National Party (ANP) president thus challenged the version of the President Thein Sein claiming that both are different issues. Dr Aye Maung asserted that the peace process is definitely a part of democratic approach but it does not relate to the democratic transition.
He stated that the conflict between the government and various ethnic armed groups continued for over 60 years and it would depend on the goodwill of the Union government in resolve the matter amicably.
“The capacity of the Thein Sein government in Naypyi Taw will pave ways for the outcome of peace process with the ethnic groups. The peace process is a part of democratic exercise for the government but it hardly relates to the process of democratic transition in Burma,” added Dr Aye Maung.
The Burma President in his radio speech aired in last September pointed out that the peace process and the next national polls are related issues. Following his speech, the debate on 2015 election got the momentum. Many political leaders expressed apprehension that the national polls might be deferred if the peace process is not accomplished.
It was, of course, challenged by the ANP president Dr Aye Maung and he expressed hope that the polls would be arranged on time. Other parties like National League for Democracy and National Unity Party also opted for the 2015 election as scheduled.
Dr San Shwe, secretary of National Development Party’s Arakan branch disclosed that their party was implementing the peace initiative, but they have never insisted on relating the ongoing peace process with the general election scheduled for next year. They too want the election on time.