Monday, 25 May 2020

By Tin Soe

Maungdaw, Arakan State: The National Democratic Party for Development (NDPD) called its first public meeting at their office in Maungdaw on October 3, said a local elder who attended the event.

The historic meeting was convened to introduce the party’s platform for Burma’s upcoming election on November 7, the elder said.

“It is the first time that authorities have permitted a public gathering for a political party since the election in 1990,” the elder said.

The party meeting, held from 10am to 2pm, drew mostly students who were interested in the NDPD’s plans for the election and who had questions about the party’s agenda.

The NDPD has shifted its focus towards the interests of ethnic Rohingyas and hopes to make inroads in the November elections to better serve the community, said one Rohingya participant in the meeting.

“The National Democratic Party for Development is reassessing its previous positions and steadily taking steps to act in the upcoming election on behalf of the Rohingya community,” the participant said.

“The party also hopes to fill all constituencies in Maungdaw and Buthiaung, just like in the 1990 elections.”

The participant added that the Rohingyas of Arakan State are more inclined to support community-based political parties, which are now free to adopt the policies of their choice and work for the well-being of Rohingya voters.

“The NDPD is a broad-based Rohingya-represented party that will field 25 candidates,” the participant said, adding that 17 candidates will run in the townships of Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Kyauktaw, Sittwe, Minbya and Mrohaung.

“The remaining eight candidates will run in Rangoon proper, where a substantial Muslim community of different ethnicities lives.”

Following the NDPD meeting, the Regional Development Association (RDA), which supports the Union Solidarity Development Party (USDP), convened its own meeting of about 40 people. The RDA urged participants of the NDPD meeting to support the USDP, according to sources in attendance.

A politician from Maungdaw who preferred not to be named said that the USDP has been granted permission from the Burma’s Election Commission to campaign in Northern Arakan State, where other political parties have effectively been barred from campaigning.