The rebels of the Arakan Army have finally released three National League for Democracy (NLD) candidates who had been abducted prior to the November 8 election.
The NLD had previously refused to consider lifting the AA’s terrorist designation until the hostages were released.
It was seen as a roadblock to any negotiations on holding makeup elections as well.
The AA called for the NLD to respond in kind and release Rakhine political prisoners.
An NLD spokesman avoided the issue of a prisoner release but did seem to be contemplating lifting the terrorist designation.
He told Rakhine-based outlet DMG media that the military should report on its recent negotiations to the NLD so that it may make a more informed decision.
The civilian government also said it is open to holding negotiations with the AA and other members of the Northern Alliance (the Ta’ang National Liberation Army, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, and some brigades from the Kachin Independence Army) in order to find a more permanent solution for peace.
The NLD’s planned meetings with ethnic minority parties haven’t gotten off to a smooth start. The three biggest ethnic parties – the Arakan National Party, Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, and Mon Unity Party – all agreed to meet with the NLD to discuss the formation of a “unity government”.
The first planned meeting was with the MUP, which stumbled before it began.
The NLD insisted on meeting at its party headquarters in Mon State, while the MUP demanded a neutral location, with neither side budging and the meeting ultimately scrapped.
The NLD doesn’t actually need the MUP (it won enough seats to take an outright majority in Mon), but the ANP and SNLD both took enough seats to force a hung parliament in their respective state legislatures.
With the ANP demanding the chief minister position in Rakhine State, those are sure to be tricky negotiations as well.