Date Set for Third 21st Panglong Conference 

By Nyein Nyein 25 June 2018

YANGON – The secretariat of the Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee (UPDJC) has proposed July 11 as the starting date for the long-waited upcoming third session of the 21stCentury Panglong Peace Conference, and unveiled a tentative schedule for a five-day meeting.

U Zaw Htay, spokesman and director general of the President’s Office, told reporters in Naypyitaw after a meeting of the UPDJC secretariat that the plan would be approved by the UPDJC on Friday, June 29.

Throughout this week, the UPDJC secretariat and the working committees on each sector — political, social, economic, land and environment and security — will discuss details of each issue.

The NLD-led 21st Panglong conferences have been conducted twice, in August 2016 and May 2017. The original plan was for the Union Peace Conference (UPC) to meet every six months but the gatherings have been postponed several times and the negotiators have tried to overcome the deadlock by leaving out the key federal principles, or the “package deal” on autonomy, the drafting of state constitutions and non-secession, of the conferences.

U Zaw Htay reiterated that talks on the package deal would resume as soon as the UPC is completed, as agreed during informal talks in late May.

“In the political sector, even though the key political package will not be included, we will focus on the rights of minorities and gender equality as agreed in the informal meetings,” he added.

The government will invite the United Nations and international observers as well as national observers and non-signatories of the NCA to the conferences.

“We will follow the framework to hold the conferences, as agreed at the second session (last year), and the non-signatories will be invited as special attendees, [who would have an observer role],” said Khun Myint Tun, the vice chair of the PaO National Liberation Organization, a signatory to the NCA and a member of the UPDJC.

The current non-signatories to the NCA are the Karenni National Progressive Party, Kachin Independent Army, Shan State Progressive Party, United Wa State Army and Mongla’s National Democratic Alliance Army, Arakan Army, Ta’ang Nationalities Liberation Army, Kokang’s Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Kaplang.

However, U Zaw Htay said further discussion were needed on whether to invite three active armed groups: the TNLA, AA and MNDAA, which are all based in Shan State in northeast Myanmar.

“We will invite the rest of the non-signatories [which are recognized by the government and Tatmadaw]. But we will not invite the Arakan National Council, a member of the United Nationalities Federal Council,” added U Zaw Htay.

Htet Naing Zaw contributed to this report from Naypyitaw.