ABSDF Meets Govt Peace Negotiators Ahead of Presidential Dialogue

By Nyein Nyein 2 January 2015

NAYPYIDAW — The All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) and peace negotiators have held high-level talks ahead of a meeting of ethnic armed group leaders and President Thein Sein, more than a year after the government and the once-outlawed student army brokered a ceasefire.

Present at the discussions in Naypyidaw on Friday were members of the ABSDF central committee led by chair Than Khe, the Burmese government’s chief peace negotiator Aung Min, and representatives of the Burma Army.

Dr Min Zaw Oo, the director of Ceasefire Negotiation and Implementation at the government-affiliated Myanmar Peace Center, said that the meeting reviewed agreements made with the ABSDF as part of the ceasefire negotiated in Aug. 2013, which include collaborating in efforts to establish a nationwide ceasefire agreement and political dialogue between the government and other factions.

“We both share the belief that the effort towards a nationwide ceasefire agreement is moving forward,” Myo Win, the vice-chairperson of the ABSDF, told The Irrawaddy, adding that his organization is dedicated to fostering a stable political environment for the nationwide ceasefire agreement and the coming general election.

Myo Win added that the ABSDF does not believe there should be any preconditions for parties to a future nationwide ceasefire agreement, for which the Burma Army has contentiously demanded that insurgent groups abide by the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, and ethnic armed groups have demanded consideration for a federalized army.

The nationwide ceasefire agreement has stalled after the army’s deadly attack on a Kachin Independence Army academy on Nov. 19. Despite a meeting between the government and the National Ceasefire Coordinating Team, which represents ethnic armed groups, at the end of December, nothing concrete arose from discussions.

President Thein Sein is planning to meet with leaders of ethnic armed groups on Jan. 5, and the ABSDF will be present on the occasion. Min Zaw Oo said that “the government intends to use discussions to make progress towards the nationwide ceasefire agreement,” and he intends to discuss the concerns of ethnic armed groups not yet party to bilateral ceasefire agreements.

“We hope to raise their political viewpoints with the President when we meet him,” he said.