President’s Office Minister and chief peace negotiator Aung Min called on all stakeholders to collaborate to establish a common framework for political dialogue during a meeting with ethnic armed groups and political parties in Rangoon on Monday.
Representatives of seven ethnic armed groups and a handful of political parties including the Union Solidarity and Development Party and the National League for Democracy attended the morning meeting to discuss the structure of political dialogue that would follow the signing of a nationwide ceasefire agreement (NCA).
Government, ethnic and parliamentary representatives have been meeting informally to discuss the issue since last year, with the general view that some headway should be made before a prospective peace pact is concluded.
“We have started these meetings to be able to quickly step up to the political dialogue following the NCA signing, as the framework drafting could take at least four months to a year,” Aung Min said in his opening remarks on Monday.
In the NCA text, it is stipulated that political dialogue must take place within 60-90 days of signing the accord.
Aung Min told interlocutors at the meeting that a nationwide ceasefire signing ceremony would be held in the first week of October, with political dialogue expected to take place in January next year.
In the afternoon, he briefed some 150 representatives from 78 political parties on the process to follow the NCA signing.
The minister said that a meeting of the Joint Implementation Coordination (JIC) team would be held 14 days after the NCA signing, with a so-called Union Peace Dialogue Joint Committee to be formed within 15 days.
The Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) gave a similar briefing to Burmese media in Rangoon on Friday.
“The discussions [on political dialogue] have been ongoing for a year. After the NCA is signed, the process will be quicker,” said Hla Maung Shwe of the MPC.
A high-level meeting between Burma’s president and leaders of major ethnic armed groups in Naypyidaw last Wednesday ended with a somewhat tentative pledge to sign a nationwide ceasefire pact in early October. However, no date has yet been agreed.
Aung Min and ruling party MP Thein Zaw met with representatives of the United Wa State Army and the National Democratic Alliance Army in Kengtung, Shan State, on Saturday, to discuss the ongoing peace process, according to Hla Maung Shwe.
Both groups have bilateral ceasefire agreements with the government and are observers to the ceasefire process but not members of the ethnics’ negotiating bloc.
Government negotiators urged them to take part in the NCA signing, according to Hla Maung Shwe, with the Wa and Mongla groups only confirming they would hold internal discussions on the matter.
Kyi Maung, a central committee member of the National Democratic Alliance Army in eastern Shan State, told The Irrawaddy on Monday that the armed group shares the same view as the majority of groups regarding an all-inclusive ceasefire.
He also said the NDAA stands together with the UWSA, Burma’s largest ethnic armed group, which has previously stated it would not sign the NCA but would join the subsequent political dialogue.
Despite rumors Aung Min would also meet with Kokang leaders of the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, no such meeting occurred over the weekend, Hla Maung Shwe said.