Ethnic Peace Delegation Reviews Political Dialogue Framework

By Saw Yan Naing 10 June 2016

RANGOON — Leaders of ethnic armed organizations that signed 2015’s so-called nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA) and a government delegation that included Burma Army officials held a meeting in Rangoon to further discuss the peace dialogue process.

The meeting took place at a branch office of the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC) this week in order to prepare for State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi’s “21st Century Panglong Conference.”  Modeled after a 1947 summit hosted by Suu Kyi’s father and independence leader Gen Aung San, the upcoming conference hopes to invoke the spirit of inclusion and interethnic cooperation of the original Panglong.

Burma Army official Lt-Gen Yar Pyae, who chairs one of two government sub-committees tasked with making preparations for the upcoming peace conference, attended the meeting with seven ethnic representatives from NCA-signatory groups.

The attendees reviewed the framework for political dialogue, offered suggestions for amendments and discussed how to include NCA non-signatory groups in the talks.

Kwe Htoo Win, secretary general of the NCA-signatory Karen National Union (KNU), said the delegation agreed to negotiate with NCA non-signatories, and to hold a meeting with non-signatories prior to the conference, which is scheduled for July or August.

“If they [NCA non-signatories] want to particpate in reviewing the framework, they will need to join our group. We will review the framework for political dialogue and if we all agree, we will submit it. That will lead to an official review. Now, this is just an informal review,” said Kwe Htoo Win.

Hla Maung Shwe, a member of the conference preparation sub-committee and senior advisor to the Myanmar Peace Center, which oversaw the NCA, posted on Facebook that the framework for political dialogue would be amended in advance of the upcoming peace conference.

He said the amended framework would be based on the NCA while also attemping to include NCA non-signatories, especially those who are members of the United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC), an ethnic armed group alliance.

Dr. Tin Myo Win, longstanding personal physician of Suu Kyi and newly appointed government peace negotiator, met with NCA non-signatory groups in Chiang Mai, Thailand, last week and officially invited them to join the framework meeting.

The Irrawaddy reporter Kyaw Kha also contributed into this story.