RANGOON — The Burma Army commander-in-chief, has reportedly told a delegation of ethnic armed organizations that he hopes the country’s Union Peace Conference, also known as the “21st Century Panglong Conference,” will be successful.
Khun Myint Tun, chairman of the Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), attended a meeting in Naypyidaw on Wednesday with Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing. He told The Irrawaddy that, during this time, the army chief spent about two hours with the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST), a delegation made up of representatives from the eight armed groups which acted as signatories to the 2015 nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA).
“[Min Aung Hlaing] said he wanted the 21st Century Panglong Conference to be successful. His desire is to move forward [with the peace process] in accordance with the NCA. He said the Panglong Conference must be successful so that there will be peace and stability in the country. Then the country will be able to develop,” said Khun Myint Tun.
According to Khun Myint Tun, Min Aung Hlaing also said he is open to talks with the ethnic armed organizations who have not signed the NCA.
The PPST that met the Snr-Gen was made up of members of the Karen National Union (KNU), the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS), the Chin National Front (CNF), the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) as well as the armed Burmese dissident organization, the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF).
Min Aung Hlaing did not specifically address the inclusion of the Arakan Army, the Ta’ang National Liberation Army or the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army—three groups that have drawn the ire of the Burma Army recently—but Khun Myint Tun said the Snr-Gen claimed he would welcome all NCA non-signatories.
The army chief also said he was not opposed to the upcoming summit of ethnic armed organizations which is planned to be held in Mai Ja Yang, a conflict-torn region in Kachin State in mid-July. All ethnic armed groups will reportedly be invited to attend the pre-Panglong summit.
Burmese army representatives including Vice Snr-Gen Soe Win and Lt-Gen Myat Htun Oo and top-ranked military officials also attended the meeting with the PPST.
The PPST delegation submitted a plan on the Kachin State summit to State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi when they met her in Naypyidaw on Tuesday. Suu Kyi also said she did not oppose the summit, but asked the ethnic delegation to submit details of the agenda for the meeting.
During the meeting with Suu Kyi on Tuesday, the NCA signatories’ delegation also agreed to hold the 21st Century Panglong Conference by the last week in August.