Burma

Burmese President Will Lead Peace Committee

By The Irrawaddy 8 May 2012

Burmese President Thein Sein is set to lead the reformed Union-level peace team which deals with ethnic armed groups in ceasefire negotiations.

The reorganized peace team will be divided into two parts—a central and a working committee—with government ministers, heads of divisions, MPs and the chief of Burma’s armed forces, Gen Min Aung Hlaing, also included.

The 12-member central committee will be chaired by Thein Sein, while Vice-President Sai Mauk Kham has been appointed chairman for the working committee of 52 members. Several top Burmese officials including Railway Minister Aung Min will serve as vice-chairmen on the working committee.

The two committees will attempt to seek permanent peace deals with various ethnic armed groups before the current administration of Thein Sein’s government comes to an end in 2015, according to a source close to the President’s Office in Naypyidaw who asked to remain anonymous.

Several current negotiators, including former minister Aung Thaung who is believed to be a hardliner, will not be included in the new-look peace team. Aung Thaung, a secretariat member of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and former Industry-1 minister, was unable to secure a ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Organization despite numerous talks.

By contrast, the peace delegation under the leadership of Aung Min has managed to reach ceasefire agreements with key ethnic armed groups including Karen, Shan, Mon, Karenni and Chin rebels. Aung Min led the peace delegation team formed by President Thein Sein in December 2011. At that time it was named as a “union-level peace discussion group.”

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