Future Unclear for State-Backed Peace Body

By Kyaw Kha 24 November 2015

RANGOON — The future of the government-backed Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), headed by President’s Office Minister Aung Min, will hinge upon the approach of the next government, an MPC spokesperson said on Monday.

The MPC was established in November 2012, with the support of international donors including the Norway-led Peace Support Donor Group, and tasked with assisting negotiations between the government and ethnic armed groups.

“The participation of the people who have been involved in the current peace process depends on the decision of the new incoming government,” Hla Maung Shwe, an MPC spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

“We will hand over what we have done to the new government even if we are not allowed to join the peace process.”

Speaking to The Irrawaddy by phone last week, Win Htein, a senior member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) which won a resounding victory in Burma’s Nov. 8 general election, said ethnic armed groups were committed to working with the incoming government to push the peace process forward.

“The peace process will be led by Suu Kyi, don’t think about the others,” Win Htein said, without elaborating on what role Aung San Suu Kyi might assume or whether the MPC would continue to function.

The MPC has been involved in facilitating ceasefire negotiations between Naypyidaw and non-state armed groups that culminated in the signing of a “nationwide” ceasefire agreement in mid-October. The pact was only inked by eight armed groups, with major fighting force’s including the Kachin Independence Army and the Shan State Army-North opting not to sign on.

Additional reporting by Kyaw Phyo Tha.