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Suu Kyi to ‘Lead’ Peace Process, NLD Says

Aung San Suu Kyi will take the lead in Burma’s peace process following the transfer of power early next year, according to an NLD spokesperson.


RANGOON — Aung San Suu Kyi will take the lead in Burma’s peace process following the transfer of power early next year, according to a spokesperson for her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD).

Speaking to The Irrawaddy by phone on Wednesday, NLD senior member Win Htein said ethnic armed groups are committed to working with the incoming Suu Kyi government to build on the peace process initiated by the current administration of President Thein Sein.

Structure of the talks and key stakeholders may be shifted, he said, without elaborating on what role Suu Kyi herself might assume or whether the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), a government-affiliated facilitation body, would continue to play a key role.

“The peace process will be led by Suu Kyi, don’t think about the others,” Win Htein said.

The party chairwoman and Nobel laureate visited a number of ethnic states throughout her campaign, assuring her supporters that peace and national reconciliation would be high on the party’s agenda if elected.

“We have many things to do in our country, and with so many issues we can’t prioritize just one thing. But the peace process will be a high priority,” Suu Kyi said at a rally in eastern Burma’s Karenni State. “If we can form a government, we will serve the rights of ethnic people and protect them.”

Thein Sein’s government secured a ceasefire agreement with eight of the country’s more than 20 armed rebel groups on Oct. 15, but conflict continues between the Burma Army and a number of non-signatories. Seven armed groups declined to sign the agreement, while several others were declared ineligible by the government.

Several armed groups that were excluded from the agreement—including the Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA)—have voiced openness to continuing the process with the NLD government, which is set to take office early next year in light of the party’s landslide election victory on Nov. 8.

Tar Jode Jar, vice chairman of the TNLA, told The Irrawaddy he would “feel immeasurable happiness” once the NLD takes the lead on the peace process, but that it is still too early to express the group’s expectations.

On Thursday, the government’s chief peace negotiator, Union Minister Aung Min, announced that a 48-member committee will soon be formed to implement a political dialogue set to begin early next year, in accordance with the ceasefire agreement penned in October. The committee will comprise 16 representatives each from the government, ethnic armed groups and political parties.

A framework for the dialogue will be drafted within 60 days of formation of the committee, which should convene before mid-December, Aung Min said, though the ceasefire stipulates that the dialogue commence within 90 days of ascension, or mid-January. It is unclear how the change of government will affect the structure and participation of the dialogue.

Upon her party’s victory last week, Suu Kyi requested meetings with Thein Sein, Burma Army chief Min Aung Hlaing and Parliament Speaker Shwe Mann, with all three agreeing to talks. Suu Kyi met with Shwe Mann on Thursday in Naypyidaw, though the substance of the meeting has not been yet been disclosed.

Thein Sein and Min Aung Hlaing have agreed to meet with Suu Kyi after the Union Election Commission has concluded the electoral process.

4 Comments
Daw Onmar

There will be several months time to observe the dwindling process in USDP, if any.- before the new NLD government can get active.May be the Tatmadaw is so agressive just now, because it is their last best chance to try out any new hardware, they may have acquired recently. When NLD really forms the government, the civilian government will not be so permissive of aggressive action taken against ethnics, as the Thein Sein government has been and still is. — Even though the army is beyond the authority of the civilian government, protected by “Nargis” constitution … the army (and the retired generals) will not look good, when this becomes openly evident at an international level..The prestige gained by “discipline flourishing … reforms” will go down the drain.

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Sai Huk Khur

It is only normal that the NLD will take the lead in the peace process, being a party that has won the elections with a tsunami-like landslide. It cannot be otherwise.

U Aung Min headed MPC, UPWC and assorted supporting NGOs like EBO are lobbying to form the NCA structure according to their liking; i.e., deciding to form a minority representative bodies on all levels of the structure.

For instance, the participation of only 8 ethnic armed groups from 21 nationwide ethnic armed organizations (EAOs). This is not mentioning that from 8 EAOs, only KNU and RCSS have troops in thousands, all the rest are less than a hundred or just a few hundreds. The estimate conservative ratio count is some 18,000 to 80,000, but the actual count could be 10,000 to 100,000, making it just 10%, instead of 5% conservative estimation participation for the 8 EAOs that have signed the government initiated ceasefire. Whatever the case, the point here is that the Thein Sein government’s striving to create such a body of 16 representatives from each group of EAOs,Tatmadaw and political parties cannot be all-inclusive and viable representation to work for the realization of the peace process.

The second point is pushing and rushing for the selection of 16 representatives , with some registered political parties that almost all have lost in the November elections. A lot of these parties are formed with the then Military Regime SPDC’s blessing and quite a lot are its outright supporters.

Apart from forming this representative 16 member from the old-setting, unelected political parties, U Aung Min’s led coalition group is trying to limit the NLD clout by appointing its like-minded political parties. After which, it would try to get the parliamentary endorsement, while Thein Sein regime is still in power, until February or March.

But if U Aung Min and company think this will create an upper-hand situation for them, even after NLD takes over the government apparatus, giving them considerable influence in the futhre political arena, they might be dreaming, for with the majority vote in its hand, NLD could overturn what the former parliament has endorsed easily.

It would be much better to let the NLD and elected ethnic parties take the lead now, or at least give them due respect as advisers and guest of honors, taking into account of their legitimacy, than trying to out maneuver them so that it could manipulate the peace process.

Time to hand over the authority to the legitimate political parties and play the constructive, coordination role.

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