From Elections to Ceasefire in Myanmar’s Rakhine State


From Elections to Ceasefire in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

What’s new? Following vote cancellations in conflict-affected areas of Rakhine state during the 8 November general election, Japan has helped broker an informal ceasefire between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army in order to hold supplementary elections. Both sides say they are in favour, but the civilian government is reluctant. 

Why does it matter? The initiative has halted almost two years of intense fighting and enabled dialogue to resume for the first time since December 2019. Negotiations over elections could be a stepping stone to a formal ceasefire, but the process remains fragile, particularly without civilian government buy-in.

What should be done?  The Arakan Army should release three National League for Democracy candidates it has detained. The civilian government should support elections and – if the Arakan Army lets the captives go – drop its designation as a terrorist organisation. The Tatmadaw should stop insisting that the Arakan Army leave Rakhine under a ceasefire.