Commander-in-Chief Tells Parties Myanmar Military Exercising Restraint
By Htet Naing Zaw 25 March 2019
NAYPYITAW — Defense Services Commander-in-Chief Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing told political party leaders that the military, or Tatmadaw, was exercising restraint and patience in order to avoid instability in Myanmar and urged them to eschew any action that might provoke conflict.
“Myanmar still lacks peace and stability in terms of politics and security and economic development. The Tatmadaw is focusing its efforts on peace and stability and would like to urge the parties to join hands,” he said at a meeting with 32 parties in Naypyitaw on Friday.
The meeting was organized by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which arranged accommodation and transportation from its party offices to Naypyitaw, according to attendees.
Out of the 32 parties, nearly half are allied with the USDP, and the majority are currently unrepresented in Parliament, including the Peace for Diversity Party, National Development Party and New National Democracy Party and other minor ethnic parties. Over the past two years they have issued several pro-military statements, for example criticizing the formation of a commission of inquiry to probe alleged human rights abuses in Rakhine State for fear of “foreign intervention” and condemning the government for agreement to implement the recommendations of the Rakhine advisory commission led by Kofi Annan.
USDP and military lawmakers had also strenuously opposed the ruling National League for Democracy’s approach to trying to amend the Constitution, claiming their tactics were unconstitutional.
In a statement issued by the military, the party leaders who attended Friday’s meeting endorsed the military’s position and actions and agreed to collaborate on issued of national import.
They said the meeting was constructive and helped dispel their doubts about the military, and suggested that the president and state counselor hold similar meeting, noting that former President U Thein Sein, an ex-general, had also done so.
Despite media reports of a power struggle between the military and the civilian government, the military appeared to be interested only in how to best serve the country, said U Kaung Myint Htut, chairman of the Myanmar National Congress Party.
“Not only the Tatmadaw, but all other people want to engage in politics. What we want is to see how everyone can work together for the betterment of the country,” he said.
“He (Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing) said he was sad that there are about 6 million Myanmar workers working in poor conditions in Thailand,” he added. “He said he didn’t want to build a country based on the support of international aid. He said he was ready to help anyone for the betterment of the country.”
The commander-in-chief said that parties not elected to Parliament were also obliged to do their fair share to promote economic growth, peace and stability, said Daw Sandar Oo, chairwoman of the Diversity and Peace Party.
“We were able to have a frank discussion,” she added. “For example, we discussed the Rakhine issue. There are political parties that do not like the military. We discussed what was on our minds frankly.”
Democracy and Peace Party Chairman U Soe Maung said the military’s current actions were in line with the law.
“No matter what is done, if it is done in line with the law, everything can be settled,” he said.
Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing defended the military’s actions further.
“The Tatmadaw is serving its national political duty besides its state defense duty. National politics means doing whatever it takes to meet the needs of the people and the country for the sake of the national interest,” he told the party leaders.
According to the commander-in-chief’s official website, the parties at the meeting included the USDP, National Unity Party, New National Democracy Party, National Progressive Party, Democratic Party (Myanmar), New Age People’s Party, National Political Allies Federation, Wunthanu Democratic Party, Inn National Development Party, Karen National Democratic Party, Karen People’s Party, Lisu National Development Party, Kokang Democracy and Unity Party, Chin National Democratic Party, Shan Nationalities Democratic Party, Democratic Party, Wa Liberal Democratic Progressive Party, Pa-O National Organization, Kayah State Democratic Party, Rakhine State National Force, Mro National Solidarity Organization, Democracy and Peace Party, Myanmar National Congress, Public Service Students Party, Diversity and Peace Party, Bamar People’s Party, 88 Generation Democracy Party, New Age Union Party, Myanmar People’s Democratic Party, People’s Party of Myanmar Farmers and Workers, and the Negotiation, Stability and Peace Party.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.